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Congressional Budget Office Predicts Effects of Obamacare Repeal

Fourteen million may lose insurance in 2018

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released an estimate of the effects the Republicans’ health bill, dubbed “The American Health Care Act,” is expected to have on the nation’s health care system and how much it would cost the federal government, according to Kaiser Health News. The GOP plan is designed to partially repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama administration.

Here are some highlights from the CBO report:

  • $337 billion reduction in the deficit. That’s the CBO’s estimate over the next decade, taking into account both reduced government spending in the form of less help to individuals to purchase insurance and lower payments to states for the Medicaid program. It also includes reduced revenue from the repeal of the taxes imposed by the PPACA to pay for the new benefits.
  • 24 million more people without insurance in a decade. The CBO estimates that people will lose insurance and that the drop will start right away. In 2018, the budget experts predict that 14 million more people would join the ranks of the uninsured. That number would reach 24 million by 2026, when “an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”
  • 15% to 20% increase in 2018 premiums, but relief would follow. Monthly costs for insurance would go up at first because of the elimination of the requirement for most people to have insurance or else pay a tax penalty. After 2018, the CBO estimates that average premiums would actually drop by 10% by 2026 compared with current PPACA rules. That’s because the lower prices for younger people would encourage more to sign up. By contrast, the law would “substantially [raise] premiums for older people.”
  • $880 billion drop in federal Medicaid spending over the decade. That comes primarily by imposing, for the first time, a cap on federal contributions to the program for those with low incomes.
  • 14 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026. That’s 17% fewer than projected under the PPACA. The projection includes people who are currently eligible and would lose coverage, as well as people who might have become eligible if more states expanded coverage under the PPACA. The CBO projects that is unlikely to happen now.
  • 95% of people who are getting Medicaid through the PPACA’s expansion would lose that enhanced federal funding. The CBO estimates that only 5% of enrollees in the expansion program would remain eligible for the higher federal payments by 2024, since the bill would phase out those payments to states as patients cycle in and out of eligibility.
  • 15% of Planned Parenthood clinic patients would “lose access to care.” These patients generally live in areas that don’t have other sources of medical care for low-income people. The Republican bill would cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood for one year.

Sources: Kaiser Health News; March 13, 2017; and Congressional Budget Office; March 13, 2017.

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