While in Hartford during Congress' 4th of July break, Senator Christopher Dodd touted a new Congressional Budget Office analysis for his health care bill. It's now tagged at 611 billion over ten years, down from earlier estimates of a trillion dollars.
Business owners will help cover some of those costs. If businesses employ more than 25 workers and don't offer health insurance, they would have to pay $750 a year per employee.
"You have to share in the responsibility. Those numbers according to the Congressional Budget Office will allow very little erosion out of the self-employed or the employer-based plans and protect about 97 percent of the people in this country with a health care option."
The bill would also create a new public health plan, something Senator Joseph Lieberman opposed this week. Dodd says it will be healthy to have a public option to compete with private insurance.
"It's very American to have options. Very American to have competiton. It shouldn't frighten anyone to have a plan that's not driven by profit motives, but driven by the idea of providing a quality form of health coverage for those who don't like their present plan, or don't have an option at all."
With the illness of Senator Ted Kenney, Dodd is shepherding the health care bill through the Senate, just as he's nursing low approval ratings in Connecticut. And he made clear he doesn't see this as safe ground politically.
"Well, you got to try. This is not what I asked for. This is one I got asked to do. And believe me, if Senator Kennedy came back tonight, no one would be happier than me. And there's every reason to believe this is going to be trouble."
But Dodd says he still expects a vote in early fall, though he concedes achieving bipartisan support has been difficult.