Should be a fun weekend: an important procedural vote on healthcare reform in the Senate on Saturday, followed by the Giants-Falcons game on Sunday. The Senate will need 60 votes (i.e., every Democrat) to bring the healthcare bill to the floor, and given the recent play of the Giants defense the team will need to score nearly that much to win. While neither is guaranteed, I’m betting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gets the votes he needs. I base this on nothing in particular except the gut feeling that in the end the Democrats will fall into line. (Update: The Dems indeed fell in line with a final vote of 60-39).
The Senate bill received a favorable scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, which stated that it would cost $848 billion over 10 years without adding to the federal budget deficit. In fact, CBO said, the bill would reduce deficits by $130 billion over 10 years. It’s important to note, however, that politically difficult cuts in Medicare payments are assumed in the scoring. The bill, which would take effect in 2014, is expected to reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 31 million over 10 years; however, about 24 million people would remain uninsured, including about 8 million illegal aliens, CBO said. About 25 million people would purchase insurance through an exchange, CBO said, while an additional 15 million would be added to Medicaid and CHIP. Medicaid eligibility would be raised to 133% of the federal poverty level and include childless adults. Only 3 million to 4 million people would choose the public health plan, CBO said.
It’s not perfect legislation by any means, and I still don’t believe claims the bill will control costs. But it’s time to take sides and so I say…Go Harry! Go Giants!