Legislation headed to the Senate floor would extend health care coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans at a cost of $849 billion over a decade, says a senior Democratic aide. The long-awaited figures come from the Congressional Budget Office, clearing the way for Harry Reid to move forward. The bill would cut the federal deficit by $127 billion over that decade, says the CBO estimate.
Debate is expected to begin on the measure this week. The bill would set up new insurance marketplaces—called exchanges—primarily for those who now have a hard time getting or keeping coverage. Subsidies would be available to help defray the cost of coverage for people with lower incomes. Reid has said it would also include a public option, with states permitted to drop out of the system.