WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- A Congressional Budget Office report showed a key proposal to overhaul U.S. healthcare would cost $1 trillion over 10 years and leave 36 million uninsured.
Faced with the analysis by the non-partisan office, Senate Democrats and the White House defended their proposal to provide affordable health insurance to all Americans and offset its expense with new taxes or cost savings, The New York Times reported.
Despite the challenges presented by the cost estimates, Senate health committee members said they would conduct their first public work on the legislation Wednesday.
"Obviously, we thought we'd get better numbers based on earlier work that was done, but this can't stop you," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., who is leading the efforts on the committee. "You have to move ahead and dealing with it accordingly and getting additional numbers where you can."
The Senate Finance Committee, also developing a bill, said it would delay releasing details of its proposal.
Republicans, meanwhile, seized on the CBO figures to claim the Democrats' efforts would fail, the Times said.
"Preliminary estimates for this flawed legislative proposal are staggering," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a Senate floor speech. "The healthcare proposal being put together is not only extremely defective, it will cost a fortune."
Also Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce formally warned Congress it would oppose an early version of healthcare reform legislation unless massive changes are made, The Hill reported.
"In the bill's current configuration, the chamber will oppose the 'Affordable Health Choices Act' unless several key provisions are significantly changed," read a letter to the Senate health committee signed by Chamber Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Bruce Josten.