Congressional Budget Office predicts healthcare bill will leave 23 million more uninsured

Olive Rios
May 25, 2017

The finding is a blow to arguments from House GOP leaders who managed to get their bill over the finish line by arguing that a last-minute addition of $8 billion would bolster protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

The Congressional Budget Office plans to release its estimate Wednesday of what impact the Republican House-passed health care bill would have on coverage and premiums.

The CBO's report Wednesday takes into account amendments attached to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on May 4, shortly before the House bill's partisan passage which was almost denied by just two votes. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. Republicans were criticized for voting on the bill in the House before the CBO estimate was published.

"We all understand that the House bill has to be essentially rewritten", Republican Senator Mike Lee, who is a part of the working group coming up with a bill for the Senate, told Fox News.

Congress is aiming to pass the bill under a process called reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of votes in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 52-48 majority, instead of 60 votes. "But that's the goal", he said.

The budget office said average premiums in those states would go down because younger and healthier people would buy coverage and the policies would cover less. Later revisions reduced those savings to $150 billion.

The CBO also found the bill would reduce deficits by $119 billion compared with Obamacare.

Those tax cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the highest-income Americans, the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, reported on Wednesday.

Under the latest bill, some 51 million non-elderly Americans would be uninsured by 2026, compared to 28 million projected under Obamacare.

MacArthur said he planned to read the report carefully Wednesday night.

More than half of that increase in the uninsured - 14 million - would come from reduced Medicaid enrollment. "In the past, the CBO's score has really been meaningless". The instability would stem from some states changing what essential health benefits are covered by this market, and allowing insurers to determine premiums based on one's health "if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage".

What does the CBO have to say about all this?

White House officials, meanwhile, slammed the CBO numbers as inaccurate, citing problems with the group's report ahead of Obamacare's passage. About 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare. Likewise, it undershot on the number of Medicaid enrollees.

Meet the new American Health Care Act-it's pretty much just as god-awful as the old American Health Care Act.

The bill would allow states to opt out of some of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, including no longer requiring plans sold on the individual market to cover 10 "essential health benefits", such as hospitalization, drugs and maternity care.

As Trump and Republican leaders sought to bring wavering lawmakers on board with the House bill, they added a controversial last-minute amendment that would give states leeway to drop an Obamacare requirement that forces insurers to charge sick and healthy people the same insurance rates. So CBO had to predict how states would react.

One-third of Americans live in states that would make "moderate changes" to regulations. But less healthy Americans in those states could face "extremely high premiums", the report said. But CBO went deeper and said that, in some of these states with the waivers, premiums may go down for some people, but, overall, they think that health care costs could substantially increase, because what you're getting are health insurance packages that cover a lot less. It said consumers' out-of-pocket costs for those services "could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the (patients) who use those services".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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