RSS
The CBO’s Baucus health bill boost
Did the Congressional Budget Office give a green light to Sen. Max Baucus’ health-care legislation?

“That loud sound you heard” in Washington on Wednesday night, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, was “the collective exhale of Democrats.” The “magical Congressional Budget Office” has weighed in on Sen. Max Baucus’ Finance Committee health-care bill, and the proposal won’t add to the deficit. In fact, while it will cost $829 billion over 10 years, it will lower the deficit by $81 billion. Given the bipartisan “shared reverence for the CBO,” that’s great news for Baucus.

Let me “translate” the CBO’s assumptions, said Tevi Troy in National Review. The bill will raise $311 billion in new taxes on “high-value” insurance plans, mandate that everyone get coverage, unrealistically cut Medicare payments, and still leave 25 million people uninsured (one-third of them illegal immigrants). “The Baucus people are probably happy,” but this seems a “cumbersome and expensive” way to cover only 54 percent of the uninsured.

For better or worse, said Ezra Klein in The Washington Post, our new health-care system “will look a lot like our old health-care system” under the Baucus bill. If you’re one of the 245 million Americans with insurance, or you’re on Medicare, you might not even notice a difference. If you’re one of the 29 million who gain insurance, it will be a “big deal.” But let’s not kid ourselves—the Baucus bill is “incremental reform,” not a push to “revolutionize” health care.

It’s not really anything concrete until it’s “translated into legislative language,” said Chris Frates in Politico. The CBO only issued a “preliminary analysis” Wednesday, based on the “conceptual language” agreed to by the Finance Committee. The dollar amounts could change when those agreements are turned into an actual bill. Stay tuned.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week