CBO: 23 Million More Uninsured Americans Under GOP Bill

Lauren Perry
May 26, 2017

An estimated 23 million people would lose health coverage by 2026 under Republican legislation aimed at repealing Obamacare, a nonpartisan congressional agency said Wednesday in the first calculation of the new bill's potential impact.

Weeks after House Republicans quickly pushed through a vote on the American Health Care Act, we finally got an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office Wednesday about what the bill will actually do.

Two budget office reports in March on initial versions of the bill projected that 24 million people would lose coverage, and that premiums would rise over the next two years but fall by 2026.

Acknowledging that it can't pinpoint which states might seek the waiver, CBO analysts project that one-sixth of the US population reside in states that could choose not to cover essential health services and may opt to charge people with preexising conditions more in in premiums than healthy people.

The amendment would allow states to apply for waivers for insurers to let them charge people with pre-existing health conditions higher prices for coverage than healthier people who also buy insurance coverage outside of their job.

"[The report] also verifies that a significant proportion of Americans - one-sixth of the US population - face the loss of meaningful coverage because they live in states expected to obtain waivers on coverage for essential health benefits and community ratings requirements", Meigs stated.

The report said, "States that previously mandated fewer benefits would be more likely to apply for a waiver" to allow insurers to drop such now mandated benefits if the Republican bill becomes law.

"The CBO was wrong when they analyzed Obamacare's effect on cost and coverage, and they are wrong again". The new bill will discourage unhealthy people to buy health insurance.

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The changes that the Republicans made meant that there was an improvement in the number of people with insurance by one million people.

But the CBO report said the amendment would make it hard or impossible for people in poor health to purchase comprehensive coverage in some states.

The bill will now move on to the Senate, and should it pass that chamber, it will not look like this current AHCA version.

LISA DESJARDINS: The biggest change a lot of people would be familiar with is, they want to give states the ability to waive out of requirements called essential benefits.

Another change would allow states to decide whether to require insurers to cover health benefits such as maternity care and prescription drugs that are mandatory under current law. The Donald Trump administration already proposed a federal budget for amended health care bill. In states that made moderate changes to their markets, representing about one-third of the US population, premiums would fall 20 percent on average.

Meigs also noted that in addition to those without insurance, AHCA will leave millions more Americans with inadequate coverage.

GOP leaders were quick to point to the deficit reduction figure as good news for their legislation - even though an earlier version of the bill, rejected by the House, would have reduced the deficit by more than twice as much. Many could find that these tax credits don't cover the cost of increased premiums and, as a result, might discontinue coverage or turn to less expensive policies that offer skimpier coverage.

Other reports by VgToday

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