Nobel-winning economists come out against Senate healthcare bill

Nobel-winning economists come out against Senate healthcare bill
© Greg Nash

A group of economists that includes six Nobel Prize winners is expressing opposition to Senate Republicans' legislation to replace ObamaCare, arguing that it "threatens reduced coverage and higher costs for those who continue to have it."

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJuan Williams: The politics of impeachment Texas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' MORE (D-N.Y.), the economists wrote that "the Senate bill would narrow coverage, and by driving relatively healthy people from the market, raise premiums for those who remain."

The Senate healthcare bill unveiled last week does away with ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates, caps federal Medicaid spending and makes cuts to ObamaCare's tax credits. Senate GOP leadership is aiming to hold a vote on the measure this week.

The economists said they think it is likely that the Senate bill would reduce coverage for almost as many people as the House-passed bill. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the House bill would result in 23 million fewer people having insurance over a decade.

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"At a time when economic change is making life more difficult for all but the relatively well-to-do, denying people to access health insurance is a giant step in the wrong direction," the economists wrote in the letter, first reported by Vox.

The economists also argued that the Senate bill would reduce help for people that are currently buying health insurance through federal and state exchanges. And they criticized the Senate bill because it would largely use savings from cutting healthcare subsidies and coverage to cut taxes for high earners.

The economists spoke positively about ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, because it "has provided high quality, affordable health coverage for millions of previously uninsured Americans and helped to slow the growth of health care spending."

While they said ObamaCare isn't perfect, they also argued that the Senate bill doesn't address their concerns. 

"We call on Congress to work on legislation to improve the health delivery system, in general, and The Affordable Care Act, in particular," the economists wrote. "The goal should be to hold down health costs and increase access to affordable, quality health coverage for all."

A total of more than three dozen economists signed the letter, including Nobel Laureates Peter Diamond of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oliver Hart and Eric Maskin of Harvard University, Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University, Daniel McFadden of the University of Southern California and Al Roth of Stanford University.