The assessment by Congress's nonpartisan auditors has been awaited by committee members as they prepare to vote on the bill, perhaps as soon as Thursday. And the CBO report lends a huge political boost to the Finance Committee's work: distinguishing it as the only one of five bills drafted by various congressional committees that meets every important test established by President Obama and key Democratic leaders.
-- It would cost less than $900 billion over the next decade;
-- It would vastly expand coverage; and
-- It would keep Obama's pledge that health reform will not increase budget deficits by "one dime" now or in the future.
"This is transformative. This is game-changing," Finance committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said. "For two years now, that's exactly what we have been doing in the Finance Committee -- working to get this result."