- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2010

President Obama said he would put out a full bill ahead of Thursday’s highly touted bipartisan health summit, but what he released on Monday is so bare-bones that the Congressional Budget Office said there’s not even enough detail to start working on a cost estimate.

The administration did not post any bill text on the White House Web site, instead offering a detailed outline of what the legislation would do.

The nonpartisan CBO, which provides the official cost numbers on legislative proposals, said it has received several requests to review Mr. Obama’s blueprint — released three days ahead of the bipartisan summit — but could not do so until the White House provides more details to its broad outlines.

“Although the proposal reflects many elements that were included in the health care bills passed by the House and the Senate last year, it modifies many of those elements and also includes new ones. Moreover, preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions,” the CBO said in a blog post Monday.

“Therefore, CBO cannot provide a cost estimate for the proposal without additional detail, and, even if such detail were provided, analyzing the proposal would be a time-consuming process that could not be completed this week.”

Asked whether the White House was planning to send the bill to the budget office for a score or come up with its own cost estimate, press secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I think it would be premature to go through that process prior to Thursday.”

Mr. Gibbs added that he believes the administration will have estimates on different sections of the bill ready for discussion at the summit.

Previously, the CBO pegged the cost of the House health bill at $894 billion over 10 years. That’s compared to $871 billion for the Senate version, which the White House said it used as a template in developing its own proposal.