May 25, 2017
Report Says Bill Leaves 51 Million Uninsured in 2026
By Paul Smedley
The American Health Care Act is now in the Senate’s hands, and Wednesday’s score will inform senators’ work as they draft their own version of the bill, experts say. About 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare.
It was the budget office’s first analysis of the bill that passed the House May 4 with only GOP votes. But less healthy Americans in those states could face “extremely high premiums”, the report said. The CBO thinks premiums would be somewhat lower in these states for customers who could afford coverage.
“Over time, it would become more hard for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly”, the CBO wrote. “The Affordable Care Act doesn’t have a back-up plan for this situation”, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff and Sarah Frostenson reported Wednesday, so it’s not clear how this could play out. “Just the opposite is happening”, said Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar at the Institute. Those changes included an amendment offered by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) that would let states waive some key provisions of the health law, including requirements to cover “essential health benefits” and to offer insurance to people with preexisting conditions at no extra cost. Self-employed mothers with maternity care costs and people in need of mental heath care, for example, could end up paying more – “thousands of dollars” more a month, per the CBO – or have to forgo care altogether.
In essence, Obamacare’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to benefits that individual states now deemed non-essential.
As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected healthcare costs. In these states, people on the individual market “who are less healthy would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all”, the report says. Trump and House Republicans tried to adorn the pig they call the American Health Care Act with lipstick, but it still squeals. Others could see more substantial reductions, ranging from 10 to 30 percent but only because those policies would provide fewer benefits than did Obamacare. However, not everyone would benefit equally.
Despite repeated claims from President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans that the Affordable Care Act is collapsing, the CBO specifically said that the market would continue “to be stable in most areas” under current law.
Fifty-one million people would be uninsured within a decade under the House Republicans’ health-care plan.
There would be cost savings to the federal government, however.
Both versions would cut taxes by $765 billion over 10 years primarily for wealthy people and insurance companies.
The fiscal 2017 budget resolution calls for proposals for at least $2 billion in savings from each chamber, with that target split in the House between the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce committees. The new CBO score predicts the AHCA would cover 1 million more Americans than Republicans’ previous version of the bill, which the agency estimated would have left 24 million more people uninsured than Obamacare in 2026. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also told Reuters he doesn’t know what that path to passing the bill will look like. Now more than ever I stand by my vote against this harmful bill because it would put the most vulnerable people at risk of losing health care coverage, and would be a disaster for Oregonians and Americans.
Complicating matters further: President Trump’s past promises on coverage. The CBO score raises the stakes for Republican senators now working on their own version of the legislation. A much-anticipated congressional analysis of the bill was released Wednesday. And whereas Obamacare has a cost-sharing feature to help low-income Americans with their co-pays and deductibles, the GOP bill eliminates this extra funding.
But the report shows that the bill does have some upside.
But USA Today’s take on the CBO report is also a case study in how media can mislead its audience without actually making any factually untrue statements.