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Where Would the Baucus Bill's $774 Billion Go?

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, September 18, 2009

While the healthcare reform bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) this week could vastly change by the time hearings begin next week, it may be helpful to look at where the dollars may be coming or going with the proposed legislation.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which had made a preliminary analysis of the bill, estimated that the gross total of the bill was $774 billion over a 10-year period. This amount is less than the amount initially quoted by Baucus—$856 billion. (The differences are due to separate ways of determining costs.)

According to CBO, enacting the Finance Committee proposal would result in reducing the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured by about 29 million—leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured. About one third of this total would be illegal immigrants. Under the proposal, the rate of nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from approximately 83% to about 94%.

In addition, roughly 25 million more people would purchase coverage through the new insurance exchanges, and an estimated 11 million individuals would be enrolled in Medicaid than under the current law. Those purchasing individual coverage outside the exchanges--or obtaining coverage through employers—would decline slightly, relative to currently projected levels, according to CBO.

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