Orszag: Health reform 'deficit neutral'

July 19, 2009 at 3:26 PM

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- U.S. healthcare reform will be "deficit-neutral" and the chances it can be delivered by August are "high," the White House budget director says.

Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," reaffirmed President Barack Obama's contention that his healthcare reform package won't add to the budgetary red ink, but declined to make a firm prediction it will emerge from Congress by August.

"The president said yesterday he will not sign a bill that expands the deficit," Orszag said in the wake of the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary analysis stating one bill now being considered by the U.S. House would add $239 billion over 10 years to the national deficit.

Orszag said that analysis assumed increased Medicare payments to doctors. But, he told Fox, "Once you take into account the -- just maintaining current payments for doctors under Medicare, that bill is deficit neutral."

Discussing the healthcare package's timeline, Orszag said its passage by the August congressional recess is "the goal. I think the chances are high."

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