CBO: 18 million could lose coverage after ObamaCare repeal

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Repealing portions of ObamaCare without enacting a replacement could leave 18 million people without health insurance the following year, according to a report released Tuesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO also estimated that premiums for policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers would increase by 20 to 25 percent that year.

The report, which was requested by Democrats,could complicate Republican efforts to repeal the health law and is likely to reignite a long fight between GOP lawmakers and the CBO over ObamaCare.

The CBO examined a 2015 repeal bill authored by Republicans that would have eliminated ObamaCare’s penalties and subsidies while leaving the insurance market reforms in place. President Obama vetoed that legislation when it reached his desk.


President-elect Donald Trump and the GOP have made repealing ObamaCare their first priority for 2017, but have not said what parts of the law they will leave in place or what a replacement plan will look like. It’s also unclear what parts of the 2015 bill they will use.

However, if they were to pass the 2015 legislation again, 18 million people would become uninsured in the first new plan year following the enactment of the bill, the CBO estimates. 

Most of the reductions in coverage would stem from repealing the penalty for not having health insurance, the CBO estimates, because people would just drop their insurance plans. 

Other people would become uninsured because of insurance companies leaving the ObamaCare market in anticipation of enrollment reductions and higher costs. 

After the elimination of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, 27 million people would lose insurance, and then 32 million in 2026, the CBO found.

Democrats seized on the report to argue that the GOP ObamaCare repeal effort would be devastating to people who rely on it for health insurance. 

“Nonpartisan statistics don’t lie: it’s crystal clear that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will increase health care costs for millions of Americans and kick millions more off of their health insurance,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

“The numbers are even worse than experts could have imagined: tens of millions will lose their health insurance, and individuals will see their premiums double. This is exactly why Republican members of Congress are getting an earful back home from constituents who want them to turn back from their dangerous plan to make America sick again.”

But Republicans pushed back on the findings. Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office called the analysis “meaningless” because it does not take into account any replacement legislation.

“This projection is meaningless, as it takes into account no measures to replace the law nor actions that the incoming administration will take to revitalize the individual market that has been decimated by Obamacare,” said Ryan spokesman AshLee Strong. 

Trump and GOP leaders have said a repeal would also come with a replacement plan, though they have not released many details on what either would look like. Republicans have also been divided over their timetable for offering a replacement plan.

Trump said this weekend said he is working on his own replacement plan that would ensure “insurance for everybody” but with “much lower deductibles” than the ObamaCare plans. He said his replacement plan is almost finished and will be revealed after his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), is confirmed.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is responsible for scoring the impact of legislation on the deficit. But Republicans have long questioned CBO reports which said repealing the law would increase the deficit.

This story was updated at 1:05 p.m.

Tags Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Paul Ryan
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