Finance Committee Chair Expects Budget Report on Reform Bill Today
On Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that he anticipates the latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of his committee's health reform bill today and suggested that a vote could come as early as Thursday, CQ Today reports (Armstrong/Hunter, CQ Today, 10/6).
The committee postponed the vote -- originally scheduled for Tuesday -- after members indicated their preference to review the latest cost scores before proceeding (California Healthline, 10/6).
However, Baucus cautioned, "If it's a complex document, it's going to take longer," adding, "If we get a clean bill of health -- that is, if it's budget-neutral and maybe a little surplus -- it should probably take not as long as if it were in another direction" (Armstrong/Hunter, CQ Today, 10/6).
According to CQ Today, a revised preliminary estimate of the bill -- developed after seven mark-up sessions -- from the Joint Committee on Taxation projects that it would raise $121.2 billion in revenue over 10 years. Because of a score change, the bill is expected to raise an additional $28.8 billion in revenue, compared with the previous estimate of $92.4 billion, which was based on Baucus' draft bill released last month.
According to the JCT estimate report, the additional revenue would be generated from proposed annual fees on health insurance companies, drugmakers and medical device manufacturers. Industry groups also would not be able to deduct the fees from their taxes.
According to CQ Today, the JCT report does not clarify whether the change in score would result in a revenue surplus or if the additional money would end up covering the costs of the amendments adopted during the bill's markup (Rubin/Armstrong, CQ Today, 10/6).
Baucus Expresses Optimism, Confidence About Bill
On Tuesday, Baucus -- who has promised his committee's members that they will have an ample amount of time to review the latest CBO score before he calls for a vote -- expressed optimism that the new score will not negatively affect progress on the bill, The Hill reports.He said, "I expect that we will not have to go back and change [the bill] because of the CBO score. That's my expectation." Baucus also expressed confidence that his committee would unify to support the bill when the vote is held (Young, The Hill, 10/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.