The Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the latest version of the American Health Care Act, and it projects that 23 million people will lose insurance coverage by 2026 if the bill becomes law.
This is slightly lower than previous estimates, which suggested that 24 million would lose coverage over the next 10 years. The CBO also projects that 14 million people will be uninsured by 2018, which is the same as previous estimates. By 2026, the CBO estimates that 51 million people will be uninsured, compared with 28 million uninsured if the Affordable Care Act remains in place.
Republicans in Congress have downplayed the importance of these predictions, saying that the bill offers consumers more choices, and reiterating the common refrain that the ACA is failing. Republicans similarly tried to downplay the importance of the CBO's original reports on the AHCA, with the Trump administration noting that it had made inaccurate predictions about coverage increases under the ACA.
Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the report would include "things we already know, like that fewer people will buy a product they don't want when the government stops forcing them to,” reports The Hill.
In addition to the reductions in insurance coverage, the CBO projects that the AHCA:
- Will reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion by 2026, which is $32 billion less than projected savings in previous versions of the bill.
- Will increase premiums for enrollees in the individual exchanges by 20% in 2018 and about 5% in 2019. However, the CBO projects that premiums on average will decline beginning in 2020, though the benefits included in those individual market plans would be less comprehensive.
- Meets the requirements for the budget reconciliation process.
The latter finding was key for House Republicans, who have not actually sent the bill on to the Senate as they awaited the CBO’s analysis. If the CBO had determined the bill did not meet the requirements for reconciliation, the AHCA would have to be amended further, forcing the House to vote again. It passed by a very narrow margin, 217-213, so passing it a second time would be a tall order.
McConnell said that regardless of the CBO’s determinations, the GOP is committed to repealing the ACA, as it has long promised. He said that “whatever the CBO says about the House bill, the status quo under ObamaCare is completely unacceptable and totally unsustainable,” so moving forward with a repeal is necessary.