By Stacey Pogue, Center for Public Policy Priorities, May 25, 2017
Today the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its “score” of the U.S. House-passed health care repeal bill. Earlier this month the House took the short-sighted and unusual step of voting to pass the “American Health Care Act” before the CBO scored it, and now we can see why. The score reveals terrible news that House members did not want to face as they rammed the health care repeal bill through. The bill will cause millions of people to lose their health insurance coverage in order to pay for big tax breaks for wealthy individuals, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies.
The CBO is the non-partisan, official number cruncher for Congress. The “score” lets Congress and the public know both how much the bill will cost to the federal budget, and how many millions of people will lose health insurance coverage. Full analyses will take more time, but our initial analysis shows that compared to current law under the Affordable Care Act / ObamaCare:
- In 2018, 14 million more Americans will be uninsured under the AHCA than would have been under the ACA, and by 2026 that number will grow to 23 million more uninsured. Of that 23 million:
- 14 million Americans will lose coverage in Medicaid by 2026, due to deep cuts ($834 billion over ten years) to the program. In Texas, Medicaid pays for more than half of all births, covers more than 40 percent of all children, and pays for the care of two-thirds of people in nursing homes. The dramatic cuts to Medicaid will harm millions of low-income Texans and our health care system and put strains and local governments and taxpayers.
- 9 million additional Americans will lose private health insurance by 2026, 6 million in the individual market and 3 million losing employer-sponsored coverage. The AHCA slashes subsidies, and out-of-pocket premiums increase for people who buy on their own insurance — especially for people age 50-64, people in rural areas, and people who are low-income. The bill would reduce funds for premium subsidies by $276 billion over 10 years.
- $664 billion in tax cuts to wealthy individuals, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies paid for by huge cuts to the programs that keep insurance affordable for low- and moderate-income Americans: Medicaid and subsidies in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Now the U.S. Senate has taken up this bad bill. Small tweaks cannot solve all of the problems the AHCA creates. The Senate should scrap the AHCA and start over again with promises that:
- CBO Score: The Senate will not vote on a bill until the CBO has scored the version of the bill they are actually voting on;
- Coverage losses are unacceptable. At least as many people should have coverage under the AHCA as the ACA;
- Medicaid will be protected, not raided to pay for tax cuts; and
- Premiums and out-of-pocket costs will not be increased shifting the heaviest burdens to the lowest income, people in rural areas, people ages 50-65, and people with pre-existing conditions. Simply making bare-bones coverage cheap for people who are young and healthy, while raising costs and causing coverage losses or grossly inadequate benefits among all others is not a real—or acceptable— policy solution