Yes, the Healthcare Bill Really Does Pay for Itself

The CBO has a new score of the final Senate healthcare bill, with all its amendments included, and it hasn’t changed much. Over the next decade they estimate that it would lower the federal deficit by $118 billion.

But isn’t this just smoke and mirrors because the bill raises taxes for ten years but only spends money for six? Nope. It also reduces the federal deficit in the full decade after 2019:

In subsequent years [] the effects of the proposal that would tend to decrease the federal budgetary commitment to health care would grow faster than those that would increase it. As a result, CBO expects that the proposal would generate a reduction in the federal budgetary commitment to health care during the decade following 2019; that judgment is unchanged from CBO’s previous assessment.

Now, obviously you can choose to simply not believe this. Or you can insist that Congress will never let it happen. Or you can object to spending more money on healthcare even if it is fully funded. But for better or worse, the CBO is the official scorekeeper, it’s one that both sides accept, and they say the bill cuts the deficit. Special pleading aside, that’s most likely exactly what it will do.

Oh — and it insures 31 million people who would otherwise go without coverage. That gets us to 94% of all legal residents. Not bad.