Experts Estimate Lower Health Care Reform Cost

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Health care reform will have a large price tag, but is expected to be billions less than President Barack Obama originally proposed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Wednesday.

The CBO determined that the health care bill currently under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee will cost about $829 billion over the next 10 years. Experts also said the reform would cover 94 percent of Americans-- not including illegal immigrants.

CBN News Financial Editor Drew Parkhill joined the CBN News Channel’s Midday program to provide an analysis of how the president’s health care reform plan will impact the national deficit. Click play to watch the interview.

"This legislation, I believe, is a smart investment on our federal balance sheet," said Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus.  "It's an even smarter investment for American families, businesses and our economy."

The measure would reduce federal deficits by $81 billion during that time and likely lead to "continued reductions in federal budget deficits" after that, the CBO added.

Lawmakers say the overhaul would be fully paid for through spending cuts and tax increases.

Baucus will call for a final vote soon, which will then send the bill up for a full vote on the Senate floor.

Health Care Reform Approval

Meanwhile, a new poll suggests there is rising support for both health care reform and President Barack Obama's job performance.

Respondents to an AP-GFK poll were evenly split on the health care issue, with 40 percent opposing reform and 40 percent supporting it.

The numbers are a sharp improvement over September, when only 34 percent of the public wanted health care reform. 

"It's very significant that there's an upturn in support for the plans because after August there was a sense that the whole effort was beginning to decline and would not come back in terms of public support," said Robert Blendon, a Harvard professor who tracks public opinion on health care. 

One key group that appears to be coming around is the elderly, with opposition among that group dropping by 16 percentage points. Older Americans have been worried that lawmakers would stick them with the bill by slashing Medicare in order to finance coverage for the uninsured.  

Michigan retiree Sandi Murrary, 65, said she's no longer worried about her Medicare coverage suffering. "I think it will be A-OK," she said.

Under the congressional health care legislation, all American would be required to obtain health coverage either through an employer, the government or on their own.

Meanwhile, the poll also showed an upswing in support for Obama, with 56 percent saying they approve of the president's job performance. That's up from 50 percent in September. The number of Americans who disapproved of his performance dropped by 10 percent.

The study, which polled 1,003 adults, was conducted October 1-5 using both landline and cell phone interviews.  

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