Congressional Budget Office | The CBO on healthcare

Congressional gavel

Before most legislation is passed, the CBO has a chance to review it. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

When any bill that affects the federal budget begins to make its way through Congress, it makes a stop that, more often than not, the public does not see. The Congressional Budget Office is an independent, non-profit governmental agency that reports to Congress, but is not controlled by Congress. The Congressional Budget Office reviews the estimated effects of all legislation – saying if the legislation will require the government to borrow money, be budget-neutral, or save money. The CBO report can make or break legislation – and the CBO report on healthcare has put an unusual spotlight on this office. So how does the CBO work, and what does the latest CBO report on health care say?

How does the Congressional Budget Office work?

The CBO was created in 1974 with the passage of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and President pro tempore of the Senate jointly appoint the director of the CBO for a four-year term. It is the job of the CBO to issue periodic reports about fiscal policy, to provide projections about the current budget, and to analyze the effect proposed legislation would have on the national budget and national debt, as requested by members of Congress.

To this end, the Congressional Budget Office employs an army of accountants and fiscal analysts who study everything from tax debt to private money lenders. The CBO was created to be non-partisan and independent of Congress, so the reports it issues would not be as easily altered by the political maneuvering in Congress.

The CBO stance on health care reform

The Congressional Budget Office does not officially take political stances. Instead, it provides objective financial analysis related to the bills currently in Congress. However, the CBO is allowed to state facts as its reports see them. On the CBO Health wesbsite, the header states:

The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, primarily because of the rising cost of health care and the aging of the U.S. population.

As reported by the Washington Post, the most recent CBO report on heath care – which is due to be officially released later today – indicates that the reconciled Senate health care bill finds that that particular bill would cut the U.S. deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years, and would cover 95 percent of U.S. citizens.

Getting more information about the Congressional Budget Office

The CBO is a huge governmental agency that issues a number of reports, estimates, and opinions throughout the year. If you would like to get more information about the CBO, its stance on health care, or see a copy of CBO reports, you can start with the Congressional Budget Office web site. Get a copy of any CBO publication on the publications page. Full cost estimates are also available on the Cost Estimates site. To contact the Congressional Budget Office, you can email them at or call 202-226-2602.

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