CBO Puts a Price Tag on Senate Finance Committee Health Care Reform Measure

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Thursday that the health care system reform package crafted and amended by the Senate Finance Committee would cost $829 billion over 10 years, providing coverage to 94% of Americans. Published reports stated the costs would be offset, in part, by new revenue from an excise tax on high-premium health insurance plans and net savings from other areas. (Modern Physician). Many unanswered questions are embedded in this report. The CBO acknowledges a lack of understanding in regards to the future changes to the SGR formula used to pay for physician services. The current chairman’s mark includes a 25% reduction across the board, with no further adjustments to the fee schedule for 10 years.  Read the full report at: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/105xx/doc10572/09-16-Proposal_SFC_Chairman.pdf.

One health care affairs analyst who works closely with organized medicine in Washington this week cited a Fox News Poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics September 29-30, which found 74% of those surveyed were concerned that any health care reform legislation passed would be bad for their family.  54% expressed worry that the legislation would give too much power to Washington and take decision-making away from their doctor.  (See the poll at: http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/100209_poll.pdf, and read the Fox News Poll summary at: http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,559244,00.html).

A poll published Wednesday by Rasmussen Reports found 46% of voters now favor a health care reform plan proposed by the President and congressional Democrats (see details at http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/september_2009/health_care_reform). That’s five points higher than a poll released a week earlier.  MSNBC reported Thursday that an Associated-Press-GfK poll found the public is split 40-40 on supporting or opposing health care legislation (see poll at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33209461/ns/politics-health_care_reform/).

On Monday about 150 physicians wearing their white coats attended a White House event, with President Obama asking the physicians to return to their respective parts of the country and push for health care system reform legislation. Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel say they believe Congress can get a bill to the President’s desk before the end of the Thanksgiving break. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say a bill has to be signed into law this year because the politics of election year 2010 would make passage almost impossible. Those comments bring to mind President Obama’s comments during a speech in May, “If we don’t get it done this year, we’re not going to get it done.”

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