Cantor: Health Care Plan Savings Dubious

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., disputed an assessment that the Senate Finance Committee's draft $829 health care bill would by $81 billion over 10 years.

"The claims that we're saving $81 billion by spending $829 billion, you know, you can say that if you want to go ahead and really rob Peter to pay Paul. And that's exactly what's going on here," Cantor, the House Minority Whip, told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Thursday.

On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary estimate on the cost of the proposal, projecting budget savings of $81 billion over the next decade. It also said "continued reductions in federal budget deficits" were probable in the years beyond. The plan would cover 94 percent of legal, nonelderly Americans within 10 years and would be paid for through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

"The way that they are expanding coverage is by taxing employers, is by taxing those of us who have insurance, and, frankly, to the tune of $500 billion," Cantor claimed. "And they're adding on top of that $400 billion worth of cuts to Medicare, which that will mean seniors will have less opportunity, less benefit, less ability to choose the kind of health care that they want." Special Report: Health Care
Health Care Reform Progress Report
Health Care Inches Ahead in the House

Throughout the firestorm of conservative criticism of his health care agenda, President Obama has insisted the only thing he would eliminate from Medicare is wasteful spending, not quality of care.

Mr. Obama's late-summer media blitz appears to have softened public resistance to reform. A recent AP poll – 40 percent in favor, 40 percent opposed – on health care, a sharp drop from the 49 percent opposition a month earlier.

Resistance among seniors is down as well – just 43 percent opposed compared with 59 percent a month ago.

But Cantor said one key element of more liberal proposals – the public option – has been "resoundingly rejected by the American people." The Senate Finance Committees proposal doesn't contain a provision for a public option, but would subsidize health care for low-income Americans. (watch the latest news on health care reform and the interview with Cantor at left)

That plan is just one of several in Congress, so lawmakers will have to merge the varying proposals – some of which still contain a public option provision – into one bill. That process will likely change the overall cost and deficit projections.

Cantor said he would meet with House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer to "look at the things that we can agree upon."

But he insisted that Republicans would "reject the notion of the government takeover" of health care.