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In a boost to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday scored his committee’s amended health care reform bill at $829 billion over 10 years.According to a letter from the CBO made public Wednesday afternoon, the legislation would not add to the deficit — in fact lowering it by $81 billion over the first 10 years — and accomplishes Baucus’ long-sought-after goal of delivering a bill that extends health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans for less than $1 trillion. The Finance Committee had been waiting for the CBO score before taking a vote on the health package. “Our balanced approach in the Finance Committee to health reform, I think, has paid off once again,— Baucus said in brief remarks on the Senate floor.However, Republicans and other critics are likely to highlight one portion of the CBO’s letter, which states that the cost estimate of Baucus’ bill is preliminary pending an analysis of the final legislative language. “The Chairman’s mark, as amended, has not yet been converted into legislative language. The review of such language could lead to significant changes in the estimates of the proposal’s effects on the federal budget and insurance coverage,— the letter reads.

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