Senate Democrats are bracing for what they expect will be a huge price tag connected with revamping the nation’s healthcare system.
The soon-to-be-delivered estimate on Democratic healthcare reform proposals is expected to be so expensive that lawmakers are talking about changing the chamber’s normal accounting procedures.
Some Democrats are arguing behind the scenes that they should not use the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) cost estimate, as is custom. Instead, they would use cost estimates from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
This unusual option could give Democratic leaders hundreds of billions of additional dollars to work with as they draft their plans. But Republicans would call it an accounting gimmick and a huge spending loophole.
A few Democrats have spoken out about the possibility of using cost projections from the OMB, which is headed by Peter Orszag, a former CBO director.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has proposed that Congress could instead use cost estimates provided by the OMB.
“We’re going to look at OMB and CBO and make our own decision as to who is right,” said Boxer.
Boxer said she would not feel obliged to abide by CBO’s work if it does not take into account savings from preventive healthcare and other reforms.
“I haven’t seen [the CBO score] but if they don’t take into account prevention, I certainly won’t. I will not follow it — we just heard from the CEO of Safeway, who said his insurance costs went steadily down since they instigated incentives for prevention.”
“Any scoring that doesn’t understand that, is not relevant to the way we work.”
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