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Senate Finance health bill gets good fiscal marks

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee's health care overhaul effort got a boost Wednesday when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would cost $829 billion and reduce the federal deficit by $81 billion over the next 10 years. That's good news for the committee and President Barack Obama , since the CBO reported not only that the measure meets their cost and deficit goals but also that 94 percent of eligible Americans could be expected to obtain coverage under it, up from the current 83 percent. About 23 million people would buy policies through new insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, in which they could comparison-shop for coverage, the CBO said, and about 14 million more would enroll in Medicaid , the state-federal program for lower-income people, and the Children's Health Insurance Program , as benefits and in some cases eligibility increased under the measure. About 25 million nonelderly people, about a third of them illegal immigrants, probably would remain uninsured by 2019, the CBO estimated. "The report, I think, is quite promising," said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus , D- Mont. Added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D- Nev. , "We are closer than ever before to delivering Americans access to quality, affordable health care in a fiscally responsible way."

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