The Republican’s replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could leave a total of 52 million people uninsured by 2026, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In contrast, 28 million people would be uninsured if the law was left as written.
In just one year the CBO, a nonpartisan office, predicts 14 million more people will be uninsured than if the ACA were to be left in place.
Some Republicans have attacked the report, while others have now raised concerns about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as currently written.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said, “We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out.”
But others were not convinced.
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said the plan is “not what President Trump promised.”
“That’s not what Republicans ran on,” he told CNN.
Cassidy also slammed the administration for criticizing the CBO, saying he is “very reluctant to disregard” the CBO’s analysis.
“You have to have an umpire, even if the umpire occasionally gets it wrong, because otherwise you are only accepting analysis by people with motivations define certain answers,” he said.
The White House has rejected the CBO’s findings, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying the CBO was “wildly off” with its predictions on Obamacare.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on “The First 100 Days” with Martha MacCallum even called for the CBO to be abolished.
“It is corrupt, it is dishonest, it was totally wrong on ObamaCare by huge, huge margins,” he said.
But an analysis by USA Today found that, while the office was not accurate in all of its estimates, some predictions were very close to the actual numbers.
And a 2015 report from The Commonwealth Fund called the CBO’s projections “reasonably accurate.”
“Given the likelihood of additional reforms to national health policy in future years, it is reassuring that, despite the many unforeseen factors surrounding the law’s rollout and participation in its reforms, the CBO’s forecast was reasonably accurate,” the report states.
The CBO missed the mark on some predictions, notably on how many people would gain coverage via private insurance through new exchanges. In this case, the CBO’s numbers were off by a little more than half.
But, regarding the AHCA, even if the CBO’s estimates are not completely correct they still indicate cause for concern, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pointed out.
“If they’re half right, that’d still be a lot of people who are uninsured,” Graham said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in a statement called the CBO report “cause for alarm.”
“This is an extremely important debate with significant implications for millions of Americans,” Collins said. “We need to spend the time necessary to get this right.”
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) outright said he will oppose the legislation as written.
“After reviewing this legislation and receiving the Congressional Budget Office score today, it is clear that this bill is not consistent with the repeal and replace principles for which I stand,” he wrote on Facebook. “I do not think this bill will do what is necessary for the short and long-term best interests of Virginians and therefore, I must oppose it.”
Low-income and older members of the population will be adversely affected by the proposed plan, with analysts suggesting a rise in premiums for those in their fifties and sixties.
Democrats also slammed the legislation in light of the CBO’s findings.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the results prove “how empty the president’s promises, that everyone will be covered and costs will go down, have been.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also had strong words against the AHCA.
“In terms of insurance coverage, it’s immoral,” she said. “In terms of giving money to the rich at the expense of working families, it is indecent and wrong.”
Prominent hospitals, doctors and health groups previously spoke out against the reform.
“Although no one believes the current health care system is perfect, this harmful legislation would make health care less secure and less affordable,” said AARP’s executive vice president.
Aletterwritten to Congress signed by seven hospitals and health systems, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), Children’s Hospital Association and the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, said the groups “cannot support the American Health Care Act” because they are “very concerned” that the draft written as is will result in millions of Americans losing coverage.
Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP, issued astatement announcing that her company “opposes this legislation.” She cited the significant rise in premiums the older population will be faced with under the proposed act.
Other CBO Findings
The CBO’s report also predicted a $337 billion reduction in federal deficits, attributed to cuts in Medicaid and doing away with subsidies for nongroup health insurance.
Rates for premiums will, on average, increase for 2018 and 2019 but will start to decrease by 2020. However, the CBO notes, “changes in premiums relative to those under current law would differ significantly for people of different ages.” The new legislation will allow insurers to charge older people five times more than younger ones “substantially reducing premiums” for the younger enrollees while raising them considerably for the older ones.