Senate Democrats' Health Care Bill Will Cost $849 Billion

Photo: Harry Reids Public Option

They haven't had a single vote or started debate, but Senate Democrats said even Majority Leader Harry Reid's presentation of a bill that will be posted on the Internet tonight is a milestone.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, seemed to have tears in his eyes when he used sign language to express his excitement.

"There's one sign that defines this moment," Harkin said.

"It is like this," added Harkin, flashing a "v". "Its victory, and that's what we're going to have on health care."

"Tonight begins the last leg of this journey we have been on for some time," said Reid, D-Nev. "The finish line really is in sight."

VIDEO: Senate Democrats Health Care Bill Will Cost $849 Billion

President Obama released a statement calling the unveiling of Reid's bill a "critical milestone in the health reform effort."

"Our goal has been to enact legislation that offers stability and security to those who have insurance and affordable coverage to those who don't, and that lowers costs for families, businesses and governments across the country. Majority Leader Reid, Chairmen Baucus and Dodd, and countless Senators have worked tirelessly to craft legislation that meets those principles," the statement read.

He added: "I was particularly pleased to see that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill will reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years and as much as $650 billion in the decade following, saving hundreds of billions while extending coverage to 31 million more Americans."

VIDEO: George Stephanopoulos examines Palins book and the McCain camp reaction.

Reporters and the public will get their first look at the bill, which Reid has been crafting behind closed doors for the past month using pieces of bills passed by two Senate committees earlier this year, when it is posted on Reid's Web site, possibly sometime tonight.

Reid called it a bill that "saves lives, saves money and protects Medicare -- makes Medicare stronger."

Earlier today, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its estimates of the bill, said to cost $849 billion over 10 years and cover 31 million Americans who are currently uninsured.

Ninety-four percent of Americans would have insurance under the legislation, according to estimates. The bill would be paid for with a menu of taxes on the wealthy and also on people with high-cost, all-inclusive insurance plans that currently are thought to drive health care costs up. It also would cut spending on Medicare.

Democratic sources say the plan would cut the federal deficit by $127 billion in its first decade, more than any other bill. It would cut the budget deficit by as much as $650 billion in the second decade.

Additionally, it extends guaranteed coverage to more than 94 percent of Americans, reducing the number of people without medical insurance by 31 million, estimates say.

The cost of the Senate legislation is lower than that of the bill passed by the House on Nov. 8, which is expected to cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The Senate Democrats' bill also meets President Obama's goal of keeping the cost around $900 billion, and achieves more than $1 trillion in cost savings.

The health care reform bill will be formally unveiled at a Democratic caucus meeting today.

Even before the CBO announcement and the Democratic caucus this evening, the Senate was abuzz with activity and chatter.

Vice President Joe Biden spent most of the day on Capitol Hill, meeting with Reid and working from his own office off the Senate floor.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...