A CBO estimate of another version of the bill written by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee put the cost at $1 trillion, but the bill would only cover one-third of those without health insurance -- a far cry from the president's vision of universal coverage.
Regardless of what the final price tag is, Democrats have yet to agree on how to pay for it.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has proposed taxing health care benefits, an idea Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also proposed during the 2008 presidential campaign. But Obama opposed that idea as a candidate and remains cool to it now. Instead, the White House has suggested reducing tax breaks for charitable contributions by households with more than $200,000 in income, an idea Baucus opposes.
Despite the snags, Democrats on Capitol Hill remain optimistic that they can get a plan passed this year, although they acknowledge it may be a less ambitious plan than they had hoped for.
And there is reason for optimism.
Despite the big disagreements over financing and the creation of a government-run insurance program, there is broad agreement -- even among health industry leaders and many Republicans -- on the key elements of reform, including mandating coverage for all Americans, helping the poor pay for insurance, making it illegal to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and putting more emphasis on preventive medicine.
All that means there is far more agreement on the key elements of health care reform today than there was in 1993. But with record budget deficits, there's also less money to pay for it.