CBO: 23 million fewer Americans insured under House GOP bill

Elias Hubbard
May 25, 2017

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its latest analysis of the Republicans' health care overhaul Wednesday, finding that changes to the legislation that helped garner enough votes to advance it from the House of Representatives won't drastically reduce the millions of Americans who are expected to lose insurance if the bill becomes law.

Some Republican strategists blasted the House's narrow 217-213 vote to advance the bill - and their subsequent Rose Garden celebration - as the "Bon Jovi rally", because they were only halfway there. But "the variation around that average would be very large", the report said.

The future of the bill hinged upon this report, as House Republicans passed their most recent version of the bill without waiting for the CBO to report the bill's estimated price tag.

Democrats jumped on the report as further evidence that the GOP effort to repeal Obama's 2010 law - a staple of Donald Trump's presidential campaign and those of numerous GOP congressional candidates for years - would be destructive.

For GOP senators holding private meetings to sketch out their own legislation, the report's figures could serve as a starting point as they consider changing the House's Medicaid cuts, tax credits and other policies.

"In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services", the report says of people living in those states.

Trump's Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, assailed the CBO for being inaccurate, with the White House issuing a similar critique.

"This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our missions: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit", Ryan said. In a report filled with brutal numbers for Republicans, this may be the most brutal.

The act could make obtaining health care coverage prohibitively expensive for some sicker Americans, the CBO found.

The House bill eliminates certain taxes on higher earners that Obamacare levied to finance the law's coverage expansion, and some experts say the Trump administration could choose to strengthen the Affordable Care Act instead of dismantling it and weakening patient protections to lavish tax cuts on the rich.

H.R. 1628, the “American Health Care Act of 2017, ” the Republicans replacement of Obamacare, would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade, the CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate.

Under reconciliation - in which legislation can be considered without a Democratic filibuster - the health care legislation can only be considered if it reduces the deficit by at least $2 billion over 10 years.

The House and Senate are not in legislative session next week, meaning any action by Republicans will be pushed into June. Among the questions are, will this revised plan cover more people than the last one and is more actually better? There been a few scores, but the most recent CBO score was $150 million saved.

The CBO estimated that about one-sixth of the US population would live in states that made substantial changes to present coverage requirements. The bill would result in an additional 23 million losing coverage by 2026, compared with under current law; under the prior iteration of the AHCA, an additional 24 million would have lost coverage.

One of the main concerns regarding Obamacare for lawmakers is the fact that premiums are skyrocketing to levels many Americans can not afford. But because costs would vary so much based on health status, the office doesn't bother estimating how much they'd fall on average.

Democrats have criticized Republicans for pushing people off coverage. Those two "Obamacare" changes made coverage more robust, but also increased the cost.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, and Sen.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, applauded the score.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, meanwhile, blasted it.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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