CBO: Nixing ObamaCare mandate would reduce deficit by $300B

CBO: Nixing ObamaCare mandate would reduce deficit by $300B
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Repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate would save about $300 billion over the next decade while driving the nation’s uninsured rate back up to 2013 levels, according to new federal budget estimates.

Government health departments would save about $311 billion over 10 years if Republicans successfully repealed the mandate, which requires nearly all adults to purchase healthcare or pay a penalty.

The updated figures, which were released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday, give a boost to congressional Republicans hoping to repeal the mandate this fall through a budget tool known as reconciliation. Under congressional rules, any reconciliation package must be determined to reduce the deficit.

Still, the GOP would have to deal with a bout of bad news from the report: Repealing the mandate would increase the price of premiums in the individual market by 20 percent. 

If a repeal is passed, 14 million people would no longer have health insurance if they were not required to by law, the report finds. That would bring the number of people without coverage to about 43 million – a level not seen since 2013.

Most of the dollars saved would result from fewer people seeking ObamaCare subsidies. The federal government would spend about $200 billion less on people gaining healthcare from subsidized healthcare programs like Medicaid and another $110 billion less on subsidies for people buying plans on the individual marketplace.

In return, the government would lose about $6 billion in fines from people lacking healthcare – resulting in a net difference of $305 billion, according to the CBO.

That’s a slight drop from the 16 million people who were expected to lose insurance if the provision had never gone into effect, according to a CBO report in 2010.

The 2010 report also found that eliminating the mandate would likely reduce insurance coverage “among healthier people to a greater degree than it would reduce coverage among less healthy people.”

About half of those 14 million people losing health insurance would come from the individual marketplace, according to Tuesday’s report. Another 5 million people would drop coverage under Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and 1 million people would have had employer-based coverage.