House Democrats Unveil $1.06 Trillion Health Care Bill

Cost may exceed threshold set by Obama, would cover 96 percent of Americans.

ByABC News
October 29, 2009, 11:09 AM

Oct. 29, 2009— -- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., today unveiled the House Democrats' broad new $1.055 trillion health care bill, saying it would provide "universal quality affordable health care for all Americans."

President Obama praised the bill, saying it would benefit small businesses and that those participating in a government-run health care plan could save a quarter of their premiums by 2016.

"As I've said throughout this process, a public option that competes with private insurers is the best way to ensure choice and competition that are so badly needed in today's market. And the House bill clearly meets two of the fundamental criteria I have set out: It is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit in the long term," the president said in a written statement.

When Pelosi unveiled the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" today, House Democrats circulated a bill summary saying it would cost $894 billion, allowing Pelosi to say the bill, "meets President Obama's call to keep the cost under $900 billion over 10 years."

But the total cost of the bill actually is $1.055 trillion.

How did they get the lower number?

They took the $1.055 trillion total cost and subtracted the amount of money that was estimated to come in from people and companies that pay fines for not having or not providing health insurance (more than $160 billion), giving a new "net" cost of $894 billion.

By using that method of accounting, the "net" cost of a bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee is $518 billion over 10 years. The actual cost of the Finance bill, as widely reported and cited by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., was $829 billion.

Pelosi has said she wants to see debate begin on the bill by next week, with a vote before Veterans Day. Some congressional aides say Democrats may not move on a full vote until they have assured there will be ample votes to pass the legislation on the House floor. The bill still has a long way to go before it makes its way to Obama's desk. The House legislation would have to merge with Senate legislation and key differences remain, especially on the type of public option plan that should be included.

This is a "historic moment for our nation and our families," said Pelosi, speaking on the steps at the West Front of the Capitol building. "The drive for health care reform is moving forward."

Congress is "on the cusp of delivering on the promise of making affordable, quality health insurance available to every American -- and laying the foundation for a brighter future for generations to come," she added.