House GOP health bill projection: 23 million more uninsured

Frederick Owens
May 25, 2017

When the Congressional Budget Office first scored Republicans' Obamacare replacement in March, many Republican moderates were disturbed by the finding that 24 million fewer Americans would have health insurance under the GOP plan.

The report said the House bill - named the American Health Care Act - would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the next decade.

Senate leaders are positioning themselves for a Congressional Budget Office report that will assess the impact the House-approved health care bill would have on insurance coverage and consumers' costs.

Several Republican Senators went on record immediately after the passage of the House bill to say that they won't even vote on the House's version of the legislation, and will instead draft their own. Besides the 23 million newly uninsured by the bill, 28 million under age 65 would lack insurance that year under the current health law.

The bill would fulfill a long-running Republican goal - repealing and replacing much of former President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, which provided health insurance to 20 million and came to be known as Obamacare.

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Groups representing hospitals, insurers and doctors who have been against the House bill said the CBO report showed the Senate should start fresh with an eye to maintaining coverage and benefits. "We just want to, out of an abundance of caution, wait to send the bill over to the Senate when we get the final score", House Speaker Paul Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the analysis proves "that TrumpCare will cause serious harm to millions of American families". Two months after that embarrassing defeat, Republicans returned with a new AHCA, which they passed without waiting for a CBO score.

While Republicans repeatedly warn that Obamacare is collapsing, CBO said sufficient demand remains under current law for insurance marketplaces to stay "stable in most areas". "The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026". The agency estimated that about one-sixth of the US population - more than 50 million people - live in states that would make substantial changes under the waivers. The instability would stem from some states changing what essential health benefits are covered by this market, and allowing insurers to determine premiums based on one's health "if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage". Under the MacArthur Amendment, people who live in "opt-out" states and have a medical condition, like cancer, diabetes, asthma or arthritis, will likely face "extremely high premium" according to the CBO.

Hospitals could lose significant revenue because far fewer people will have insurance and insurers are anxious about the affordability of the tax structure and proposed major changes in Medicaid financing.

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