After the briefing on the long-awaited Senate health care bill, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd talked Wednesday about how he wished U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy were there to be part of this historic moment.
“This bill meets the test of history, reflecting the ideals that drove Ted Kennedy to lead the fight for health care reform for a generation and inspired me to take up his torch this summer,” Dodd said. “I regret he’s not here tonight to be a part of this.”
Dodd’s statements came shortly after the Congressional Budget Office released its cost estimates of the Senate bill.
According to the CBO, the bill will cost $849 billion, cut the deficit by $127 billion, and cover 94 percent of eligible Americans. The bill is also expected to reduce the number of uninsured by 31 million.
A cloture vote could come as early as Friday or possibly Saturday.
But it was still unclear Wednesday if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have the requisite 60 votes needed to proceed. When asked if he had the support of moderate Democrats Reid said “you’ll have to speak to them.”
“I’m not going to speak for anyone,” Reid said. “The caucus was good. My understanding is that you should talk to them.”
Earlier in the press conference Dodd said, “I am confident, as I stand before you this evening, that we are going to achieve this goal at long last for the American people.”
Click here to watch the press conference on C-Span.
Upon learning the details of the bill President Barack Obama sent out the following statement:
“Today we passed another critical milestone in the health reform effort with the release of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I was particularly pleased to see that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill will reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next ten years and as much as $650 billion in the decade following, saving hundreds of billions while extending coverage to 31 million more Americans.
From day one, our goal has been to enact legislation that offers stability and security to those who have insurance and affordable coverage to those who don’t, and that lowers costs for families, businesses and governments across the country. Majority Leader Reid, Chairmen Baucus and Dodd, and countless Senators have worked tirelessly to craft legislation that meets those principles.
Just yesterday, a bipartisan group of more than 20 leading health economists released a letter urging passage of meaningful reform and praising four key provisions that are in the Senate legislation: a fee on insurance companies offering high-premium plans, the establishment of an independent Medicare commission, reforms to the health care delivery system, and overall deficit neutrality. The economists said that these provisions ‘will reduce long-term deficits, improve the quality of care, and put the nation on a firm fiscal footing.’ Those are precisely the goals we should be seeking to attain.
The challenges facing our health care system aren’t new – but if we fail to act they’ll surely get even worse, meaning higher premiums, skyrocketing costs, and deeper instability for those with coverage. Today, thanks to the Senate’s hard work, we’re closer than ever to enacting solutions to these problems. I look forward to working with the Senate and House to get a finished bill to my desk as soon as possible.”