Health care legislation drafted by a key Senate committee would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost of $829 billion, congressional budget experts said Wednesday, a preliminary estimate trumpeted by the White House and likely to power the measure past a major hurdle within days.
The Congressional Budget Office added that the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $81 billion over a decade and probably lead to "continued reductions in federal" red ink in the years beyond.
The report paves the way for the Senate Finance Committee to vote as soon as early next week on the legislation, which is largely in line with President Barack Obama's call for the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system in a half-century.
At the White House, spokesman Reid Cherlin said the analysis "confirms that we can provide stability and security for Americans with insurance and affordable options for uninsured Americans without adding a dime to the deficit and saving money over the long term."
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman and principal architect of the measure, hailed the estimates within moments of receiving them.