House GOP health bill projection: 23 million more uninsured

May 25, 2017, 07:54

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/NewscomThe House-passed Republican health care plan would increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 23 million over 10 years, but would reduce premiums for those who maintain coverage, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill released Wednesday evening.

Rather than an extra 24 million people it said would be without insurance by 2026 under the first proposal, the CBO dropped that estimate to 23 million.

The report could give added ammunition to Democrats who have accused President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans of putting sick and low-income people at risk with their effort to roll back former President Barack Obama's signature 2010 healthcare law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act but often called Obamacare.

While the topline numbers were little changed from a previous version of the bill that was withdrawn from consideration, which the CBO found in March would insure 24 million fewer people and save $150 billion, the report found that the latest changes to Obamacare regulations would make insurance unattainable for many sick people and raise costs for others.

Several Republicans have expressed concern about the House plan's rollback of Medicaid, and a provision that allows insurers to increase health premiums for people with pre-existing conditions - a practice Obamacare prohibits.

"Despite the pleas of families across America and the urgent warnings of nearly every doctors' and patient group, Republicans are still pushing to enact this moral monstrosity", Pelosi added. For GOP senators holding private meetings to sketch out their own legislation, its figures could serve as a starting point as they consider changing the House's Medicaid cuts, tax credits and other policies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also told Reuters he doesn't know what that path to passing the bill will look like.

"Over time, it would become more hard for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly", the report said.

The $119 billion deficit reduction represents a decline from previous versions. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, said in a statement, "No wonder the Republicans were afraid of the CBO analysis".

In addition, insurers would be able to impose annual and lifetime limits, a practice banned by the Affordable Care Act, on benefits on longer considered essential by states. That's up from $1,700 under ObamaCare. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected. States could also gain permission for insurers to charge older customers far higher premiums.

The CBO found that the revised Republican bill does bring down overall premiums in the individual market by anywhere from 4 to 20 percent by 2026 compared with what they would be under current law.

"The CBO - [a] nonpartisan fact-based score - shows what a horror show this Republican plan is for people who need healthcare most", he said. For most people keeping the same coverage, according to Park, premiums would actually go up.

"Decisions about offering and purchasing health insurance depend on the stability of the health insurance market - that is, on the proportion of people living in areas with participating insurers and on the likelihood of premiums' not rising in an unsustainable spiral". His coverage cost is reduced thanks in part to subsidies, but under the proposed plan, that same 64-year-old would pay $16,100 in premiums by 2026 if he lives in a state that doesn't accept regulatory waivers. Under budget reconciliation - a process that allows the Senate to pass a bill with only 51 simple majority "yes" votes - the GOP bill must hit a $2 billion savings goal over the next decade.

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