House healthcare plan to add to deficit: analysts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A sweeping healthcare reform bill being pushed by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives would increase already swollen federal budget deficits by $239 billion over 10 years, according to a government analysis released on Friday.

The estimates, which could change since at least three House panels are now debating the legislation, covered the measure as unveiled earlier this week.

The $1 trillion plan, which was unveiled on Tuesday, “would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period,” according to a report submitted to Congress by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The two congressional offices provide nonpartisan analysis on the budgetary impact of spending and tax measures under consideration by Congress.

President Barack Obama has made healthcare reform -- and the expansion of care for millions of uninsured people -- the top priority of his administration. He has called on Congress to give him legislation this year that he could sign into law.

The CBO report noted the analysis was based on communications with congressional aides and was not a detailed look at the legislative language itself.

The House proposal, which would set up a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers, would cost $1.042 trillion over 10 years, according to the analysis.

That cost would be partially offset by program savings of $219 billion over five years and added revenues totaling $583 billion.

But the combination of savings and added revenues would leave the government with the $239 billion deficit over the decade, according to the report.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of three House panels writing the healthcare reform legislation, said the measure would be deficit-neutral, as Obama has requested.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney