This information is based on CBO's preliminary analysis of the Senate-passed health care takeover (H.R. 3590) along with the so-called "sidecar" amendment, the Reconciliation Act of 2010. CBO is careful to include the following caveat with the score:
"Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending a review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections."
Spending: According to the CBO's preliminary score of H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation amendment, the legislation would spend nearly $1 trillion over its first ten years. More specifically, CBO estimates that the bill would spend $940 billion to finance coverage expansions-$434 billion for the Medicaid expansions, $466 billion for "low-income" subsidies, and $40 billion for small business tax credits. The spending on coverage expansions does not even consider additional federal spending included in the legislation-including $60 to $70 billion in discretionary spending which CBO recently estimated-and other spending which may fall outside the coverage subsidies. When combined with the cost of the coverage expansions, total spending under the bill almost certainly exceeds $1 trillion.
Budgetary Gimmicks: While the CBO score claims H.R. 3590 and the Reconciliation Act of 2010 would reduce the deficit by $138 billion in its first ten years, Democrats achieved that "deficit-neutral" in part by excluding the cost of reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) mechanism for Medicare physician payments-the total cost of which stands at well over $250 billion over ten years, according to CBO-from this bill, and including it instead in separate legislation (H.R. 3961; S. 1776) that is not paid for. While Members may support reform of the SGR mechanism paid for in a fiscally responsible manner, many may view any legislation that presumes a more than 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians in the applicable budget window as an inherent gimmick designed solely to hide the apparent cost of health "reform."
Out-Year Effects: According to CBO's estimate, the legislation would reduce deficits relative to the current baseline between FY 2020 and FY 2029 by a broad range, roughly between zero and one-half percent of GDP over the ten year span, depending on what legislation were to be enacted-not by any dollar amount, such as $1.2 trillion, as Democrats have asserted. However, CBO admits that these long term estimates are "rough" and that, "The imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO's 10-year budget estimates."
Taxes: Offsetting taxes include $17 billion in taxes on individuals not complying with the mandate to purchase coverage, $32 billion from the "Cadillac tax" on high-premium insurance plans, $52 billion in payments by businesses associated with the employer "free rider" penalty, and $44 billion in associated other revenue interactions. In total, provisions in the reconciliation bill increase taxes by $155.8 billion over the next ten years, above and beyond the tax increases contained in the Senate-passed bill.
Student Loan Provisions: The legislation includes a reconciliation provision to alter federal student loan programs by eliminating the Federal Family Education Loan program and shifting all student loans to a government-run and taxpayer financed system under the Direct Loan program. While this legislation has nothing to do with the government takeover of health care, the provision is scored as a deficit reduction of $19.4 billion which is used as an offset against the $1 trillion cost of the legislation. However, CBO has also noted that current budget scoring rules do not include the cost to the government stemming from the risk that the cash flows may be less than the amount projected (that is, that defaults could be higher than projected).