Baucus Says His Reform Bill Will Cost Under $1T

June 26, 2009 ( - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D - Montana) said in a statement that the Congressional Budget Office told his committee its health care reform bill has options that "would cost under $1 trillion and are fully paid for."

Baucus’ committee has not yet introduced proposed legislation, but in a committee hearing on financing reform, he said the tax treatment of health care should be looked at, while also saying he agreed the tax exclusion for the benefits should not be eliminated altogether (see Baucus Reportedly Considering Ways to Tax Health Benefits ).

The $1 trillion figure is significant, as recently the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the major provisions of the Affordable Health Choices Act proposed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would result in a net increase in federal deficits of about $1 trillion for fiscal years 2010 through 2019 (see Agencies Estimate Health Reform to Increase Deficit by $1T ).

In his statement Baucus reiterated that his committee will not “put out a mark until we are sure we have it right,” but said the CBO’s estimate makes him “even more confident in our ability to move forward.”

“I’ll continue to work with (Iowa Republican) Senator (Charles) Grassley and senators on both sides of aisle to turn these options into a package that can pass the Senate and become law this year,” Baucus said.