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article imageHealth care bill tops $1 trillion, CBO calls budget unsustainable

By Matthew Moran     Jun 17, 2009 in Health
Senate sources say the health care bill in committee could cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office says health care spending puts the budget on an unsustainable path.
During his campaign for the White House, President Obama championed health care reform. Senate committees are working on putting the bill together, but drastic costs are slowing work on the legislation, reports the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, the CBO released an analysis on health care spending, not including the potential bill being pondered in the Senate. The CBO calls the federal budget "unsustainable," in part because of health care spending.
The AP is quoting two Senate staffers, one Democrat and one Republican, on the cost of the President's landmark health care reform bill. As it stands, the bill would cost $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. That's about $600 billion more than the President had hoped for.
The bill creates a government-funded health insurance option that would compete against private insurers. It also mandates individual and employer-sponsored health coverage.
While President Obama has made the bill a priority, some see the rising costs, along with other factors, as a problem.
"This bill costs too much, covers too few and will force about 10 million people to have to lose their employer-provided coverage," Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, told CNN.
A report from the CBO may give Senator Enzi credibility. The federal government will spend $1 trillion on health care in 2009, according to the report, which can be read in its entirety here. That does not include any new policies that may be created by Congress and the White House.
"In the absence of significant changes in policy, rising costs for health care will cause federal spending to grow much faster than the economy, putting the federal budget on an unsustainable path," wrote Douglas W. Elmendorf, the Director of the CBO, to Senator Kent Conrad, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
The bill is already a tough-sell. The American Medical Association said Monday they didn't stand by the Obama plan.
"We're not sure that the government is very good at running a health plan," said Nancy Nielsen, president of the AMA, as quoted in USA Today.
The President is determined though, to not let this effort fail, as have previous reform efforts. "Despite this long history of failure, I'm standing here because I think we're in a different time."
More about Health care, Obama health care, Universal health care, Federal budget, Budget deficit
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