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CBO’s health-reform cost analysis buoys Senate Democrats amid debate


WASHINGTON Most Americans will see their health insurance rates either hold steady or decline if a health-reform bill now being debated in the Senate becomes law, according to a report released yesterday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO concluded that the majority of Americans who get their health coverage from their employers will see either no increase or a modest drop in their premiums under the Senate plan, which has the backing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democratic leaders. For large employers, premiums would drop as much 3%. Small employers could see either a slight drop or a modest uptick in premium costs, while the smallest employers could use tax credits under the Senate plan to lower their premium costs by as much as 11%, the CBO predicts.

However, those changes wouldn’t become fully effective until the full implementation of the health overhaul bill in 2016, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.

In addition, some of the estimated 32 million Americans expected to buy their own health coverage in 2016 would see an increase in their out-of-pocket costs of 10% or more, the CBO predicts. However, many of those self-insured people would qualify for subsidies that would cut their premiums substantially.

Predictably, Senate Democrats and Republicans responded to the CBO analysis in strikingly different ways. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., noted in a statement, “the vast majority of Americans will see lower premiums than they would if we don’t pass health reform.” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the other hand, said the findings pointed up the fact that “most people will end up paying more or seeing no significant savings,” despite the high cost of the health overhaul plan.

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