Study: Revised GOP health bill could cause more to lose coverage

Study: Revised GOP health bill could cause more to lose coverage
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A new analysis from the Brookings Institution finds that the GOP's revised ObamaCare replacement bill is likely to result in roughly the same coverage losses as the original bill and could even cause more people to lose coverage. 

House Republicans on Monday night released an updated version of their bill, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA). 

The changes were crucial to winning over the votes of some centrist House Republicans, who pointed to changes to raise the level of a proposed cap on Medicaid spending in the bill and roughly $75 billion in extra funding for tax credits to help older people buy coverage. 

However, the analysis from Matthew Fiedler and Loren Adler at the Brookings Institution found that the revisions are unlikely to significantly change the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) finding from the original bill that 24 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. 

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Changes to Medicaid won by conservatives could end up increasing those coverage losses, the authors found. 

“We expect that CBO’s updated estimate of the reduction in insurance coverage under the revised AHCA in 2026 is unlikely to be much below its prior estimate of 24 million, and it is possible that its revised estimate could be somewhat higher,” they wrote. 

The authors wrote that the raise in the Medicaid spending cap is unlikely to reduce coverage losses by more than 1 million people. Most of the projected losses in Medicaid instead come from ending ObamaCare’s expansion of the program.

In addition, the extra $75 billion would make up for only about one-quarter of the reduction in subsidies to help people buy insurance due to repeal of ObamaCare’s financial assistance and would “marginally” reduce estimates of coverage losses, the analysis said. 

Meanwhile, some revisions could even increase coverage losses. Namely, allowing states to require “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients to work could lead to some people losing coverage, though it is unclear how many states would choose to impose the requirements. 

Another provision, to allow states to accept a block grant of Medicaid funds, could result in “substantial” coverage losses, the analysis states, but it finds most states are unlikely to accept the block grant since it would likely cut their Medicaid funding even more.