Lawmakers drafting a health reform bill say they are discouraged by preliminary dollar amounts tallied by the Congressional Budget Office that show lower-than-expected savings for initiatives to make Americans healthier.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), who has led the health reform effort on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the absence of Sen. Edward Kennedy, chided Congress budget arm for being nearsighted in its early reports. There have been some overall cost projections, which, candidly, came in a little less than people thought, Dodd said.
How the CBO actually scores legislation, or assigns a price tag to measures outlined in a bill, has been the topic of much hand-wringing among lawmakers.
Dodds office, however, did not provide specific examples where scoring might be lower.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chaired a task force on prevention and wellness, said the CBO has trouble estimating such savings, but that data from the private sector, where major employers have incorporated prevention and wellness programs to help drive down workers healthcare costs, show promise. They give us some data on which we can extrapolate what would happen if you did this on a national basis, he said.