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House Getting Ready to Send Its Reform Bill to CBO

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, October 9, 2009

Commenting about the status of the House healthcare reform bill (HR 3200) Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, "We're coming around the curve, but we're not in the stretch yet. What she meant is that the bill is now being prepared for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for scoring—or determining how much it will cost.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on its bill, which received a preliminary CBO score this week, on Tuesday.

Included with the House bill will be a "robust public option," she said. "I think it's very clear from our conversation with the [House] members that the votes are there for a public option." The anticipated cost of the public option is expected to be $110 billion over a 10-year period.

At the same time, she admitted that the House still is examining ways to generate income that will offset reform costs. In particular, they were "looking at what the Senate has done and to see if there is any common ground" that could be found there, she said.

"But at the same time, I thought that there was more the insurance companies could contribute to this healthcare reform. After all, they are going to get 50 million new consumers and many of them subsidized are by the taxpayer," she said. She said both insurers and the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry both have "much more that they can put on the table."

This action is occurring at the same time House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) has found himself increasingly under scrutiny. On Thursday, he House ethics committee said it was expanding its investigation of the congressman—looking at allegations in his ongoing case related to the restatement of his personal finances this summer.

A Republican sponsored resolution that tried to remove Rangel from his chairmanship position was voted down on Wednesday. However, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R OH) on Thursday repeated his call for Rangel to step down until the committee completes its investigation. "We're going to continue to press this case," he said.


Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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