CBO: Millions Would Be Without Health Insurance Under GOP Bill

Wednesday, May 24th 2017, 5:00 pm
By: News 9

Twenty-three million more people would be left without health insurance over the next decade under the House-passed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to a cost estimate released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday.

This estimate of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) projects that 1 million fewer people would lose their health insurance over that period than had been previously estimated when the CBO scored earlier versions of the bill. Two separate cost estimates in March projected that 24 million people would be left without insurance by 2026 under the versions of the measure considered at the time.

The House-passed legislation would also reduce federal deficits over the next 10 years by $119 billion, CBO said Wednesday, which is less than the $150 billion CBO projected in a score of an earlier version of the bill. There were reports last week that the House might have to vote again on a health care bill if the CBO projection found that the bill wouldn't save at least $2 billion.

The version of the bill passed by the House allows states to apply for waivers from regulations imposed by Obamacare if they can prove that doing so will reduce average premiums, increase enrollment, stabilize the health insurance coverage market or increase the choice of health plans in the state. According to the proposed amendment, states granted a waiver would be allowed to set up high-risk pools or participate in a new federal invisible risk-sharing program to help states reimburse the cost for insurers for covering these consumers. The American Healthcare Act would give states $100 billion over the next decade to help with high-risk pools

CBO also projects that the House-passed measure would result in an increase in single policyholder premiums before 2020, by an average of about 20 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019. The report, however, says that starting in 2020, "average premiums would depend in part on any waivers granted to states and on how those waivers were implemented and in part on what share of the funding available from the Patient and State Stability Fund was applied to premium reduction." It also says that for states that don't obtain waivers, average premiums would be "about 4 percent lower in 2026 than under current law." The score from March projected premiums would go down 10 percent, on average, over the next decade.

The House narrowly passed the measure in early May by a 217-213 vote after twice not being able to secure enough votes in March to pass it then.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have signaled that they are writing their own version of the bill, which would then have to be reconciled with the House.

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