A couple of weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a preliminary score of the health care legislation under consideration in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The bill was estimated to cost $1 trillion over 10 years, while reducing the number of uninsured by “only” one-third. As many informed bloggers noted at the time, the cost estimate was incomplete because the legislation that the CBO reviewed did not contain language about a public health insurance plan or an employer mandate.
Nevertheless, Republicans seized on the opportunity to engage in merciless political attacks, citing the incomplete CBO score as proof that health care reform is not worth doing:
John McCain: “[The CBO estimate] should be a wake up call for all of us to scrap the current bill and start over in a true bipartisan fashion.”
John Boehner: “[T]he public option would cost over $1 trillion, and would cause 23 million Americans to lose their private health care coverage.”
Lindsey Graham: “The CBO estimates were a death blow to a government run health care plan.”
The plan carries a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600 billion, and would lead toward an estimated 97 percent of all Americans having coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Chris Dodd said in a letter to other members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. [...]
The [employer mandate] provision is also estimated to greatly reduce the number of workers whose employers would drop coverage, thus addressing a major concern noted by CBO when it reviewed the earlier proposals.
In other words, the addition of the public plan dramatically reduced the overall cost of the bill and ensured coverage of almost all Americans. So what excuses will McCain, Boehner, Graham, and other Republicans offer now? Their attacks were not only found to be baseless, but their concerns about the costs and coverage have also been addressed.
The incoming president of the American Medical Association, Dr. J. James Rohack, said his organization now supports a public plan, after initially indicating its opposition. The AMA supports an “American model” that includes both “a private system and a public system, working together,” he said.