Max Baucus is making some big claims on his own behalf, according to Jeff Young:
A draft bipartisan healthcare reform bill being negotiated in the Senate would extend insurance coverage to 95 percent of legal U.S. residents, cost less than $900 billion and actually reduce the federal budget deficit over 10 years, Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Wednesday. [...] “The current draft of the bill scores below $900 billion over 10 years, covers 95 percent of all Americans by 2015 and is fully offset,” Baucus said. “In fact, according to the preliminary CBO report, the bill would actually reduce the federal deficit in the 10th year by several billion dollars.”
Is this possible? I can envision two scenarios. One is that the Finance Committee is defining “covers” in a pretty stingy way. A lot of reformers are going to have a big problem with that, if that proves to be the case, though I’m a bit more open-minded about the possible virtues of a bare-bones minimum benefits package. The other, which the artful phrase “scores below $900 billion over 10 years” makes me suspect, is that he’s basically accomplishing this through accounting gimmicks. If you phase a plan in slowly enough, you can get the 10 year score as low as you like.