The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office finally released its assessment of the Obamacare replacement bill House Republicans are pushing through Congress and the results are even more depressing than what everyone initially thought.
The American Health Care Act, which sparked intense backlash from Democrats, medical professionals, the American Medical Association and even some Republican members of Congress, would result in nearly 24 million people losing their public health care insurance by 2026 and 14 million by the next year.
The controversial bill would also raise premiums for those covered on the individual market while lowering the federal deficits by $337 billion over 10 years because of cuts to Medicaid, which covers millions of low-income Americans.
It is a disaster and the Republicans are either clueless about the adverse effects of their bill or they just assume the public is stupid enough to believe their lies and unsubstantiated claims. For instance, Health Secretary Tom Price recently made a very bold claim during an MSNBC interview, promising, “Nobody would be worse off financially” under President Donald Trump’s health care proposal. A few days before that, House Speaker Paul Ryan decided to go old school and actually created a PowerPoint presentation to outline AHCA highlights while bashing Obamacare for its shortcomings.
Even Trump, multiple times during his campaign, said the health plan under his presidency would “take care of everybody” and be “cheaper” and better than former President Barack Obama’s signature plan.
The Affordable Care Act was not flawless by any means, but it also did not appear on the brink of thrusting the country into another depression.
Here is the breakdown of the scary CBO report:
About 14 million more people would be uninsured in 2018
Under the current legislation, those who do not purchase Obamacare have to pay tax penalty. The analysis predicted if Trumpcare repeals the mandate, scores of people would stop buying health insurance simply because they are not required to any more, resulting in sharp decline.
“Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate,” said the report. “Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.”
The number of uninsured would rise by 21 million in 2020
After two years, when AHCA begins to roll back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a huge number of lower-income Americans will lose their coverage as their income changes.
“The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment — because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped,” the report continued.
The number of people who lost their insurance would rise by 21 million in 2020 and hit the 24 million mark in 2026.
By then, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, according to the CBO.
Health insurance market will be stable
The report predicts premiums would rise 15 to 20 percent in the next two years before dropping by 10 percent than what they were under Obamacare over the next decade. CBO forecasts more young people will come into the market as the GOP plans to make it more enticing for younger and healthier individuals.
“Under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the non group market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference,” the assessment added. “The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures for the market to be stable.”
The Trump White House was apparently ready for such an outcome, because even before CBO released its report, press secretary Sean Spicer had begun laying groundwork to discredit it.
“If you're looking at the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place,” he said last week. “They were way, way off last time in terms of how they scored and projected Obamacare.”
As for the rest, well, Paul Ryan made a rather damning statement shortly after the report was released.
“I think if you read this entire report, I’m pretty encouraged by it, and it actually exceeded my expectations,” Ryan told Fox News. “We’re saying the government’s not going to force people to buy something they don’t want to buy. And if we end an Obamacare mandate that says you must buy this government, one-size-fits-all plan, guess what, people aren’t going to buy that. So, of course, they’re going to suggest that if we’re not going to make people do something they don’t want to do, they’re not going to do it.”
Obama promised the same thing, that people would be able to keep their health care plans if they want, but it did not work out that way. The Trump administration is making the same mistake, though of course theirs is several time more catastrophic.
Moreover, CBO’s predictions are not 100 percent on point. They can get some statistics wrong, but they are pretty much the best we have. Not to mention, since it is a bipartisan organization, it cannot be accused of being biased.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque