CBO: Uninsured rate dropping, subsidized coverage costing government less

There's good news from the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections regarding the federal budget deficit.

From 2015 to 2024, the federal budget deficit is set to be $175 billion less than what CBO originally projected last August. A slowdown in healthcare spending growth is a big part of the reason why, noted Douglas W. Elmendorf, CBO director, according to The New York Times

The CBO also reported a reduction in the uninsurance rate--by 2015, the number of uninsured will have dropped by 19 million. Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act will cut the  number of uninsured Americans nearly in half by 2023, from 45 million to 23 million, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

These new projections may help Democrats save the Affordable Care Act from Republicans who wish to repeal the healthcare reform law, suggested the Times.

Projections of Medicaid spending per beneficiary in the Medicaid expansion states are lower than expected, with spending set to fall by $60 billion over 10 years. An estimated 25 million individuals will purchase coverage by 2017; about three-fourths are expected to receive federal funding to pay for their plans. That said, CBO found that subsidies will cost the government less than originally anticipated.

This latest projection will no doubt play a role in the Supreme Court's upcoming hearing on King v. Burwell, which will determine the legality of federal subsidies on federal insurance exchanges.  

If the Supreme Court puts a stop to federal subsidies, the federal government will spend less on healthcare, according to Brian Beutler of The New Republic. However, he wrote, "the savings will not be plied into programs that help the poor or be returned to taxpayers, individual liberty will not increase, and a wider array of health plans will not materialize. Millions will lose their coverage, insurance markets will collapse, and the public dividend will be a slightly lower budget deficit."

For more:
- here's the CBO report (.pdf)
- read The New York Times piece
- check out The New Republic article