The time for a final vote on health care reform is at hand after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) returned its analysis of the landmark legislation to Congress. Democratic leaders are soon expected to release the final version of bill and have seventy-two hours after which to bring it up the legislation for a vote Sunday afternoon in the House.
The CBO says America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 will cost the federal government $940 billion but reduce $138 billion from the federal deficit over the same time frame by increasing revenue and cutting other costs.
Much of the revenue will come through new taxes, including extending taxes for Medicare to "unearned" income such as annuities. Life insurers have voiced opposition to such a tax. In February, the American Council of Life Insurers sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner objecting to the administration's plan to levy a 2.9% tax on annuity income. "The Administration’s proposal to tax annuity income would counter both of those goals and negatively impact an important tool used to accumulate retirement savings and to secure lifetime retirement income— particularly for the 78 million working Americans who lack access to an employer-sponsored plan,” Keating wrote.
Other new taxes include a tax on the health benefits of some people who receive coverage through employers.
The positive scoring by CBO is widely expected to help push some recalcitrant Democrats into voting for the legislation. According to the Washington Post, the number of Democratic holdouts is now thought to be approximately five members.
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