- The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would mean an additional 24 million people without health insurance in the next 10 years while also saving $337 billion in federal budget deficits, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which released its highly anticipated score of America’s Health Care Act (AHCA) on Monday.
- Key Republicans pushed back against the assessment as too harsh, but Politico reported that the White House’s own analysis of the bill found even worse coverage losses at 26 million.
- The CBO report finds premiums would increase in the short term, but decrease after several years. It also shows substantially higher costs for older adults than younger adults.
The GOP was gearing up for an unfavorable score from the CBO by casting skepticism on the agency’s abilities and nonpartisanship, but the report Monday was more negative than many expected.
Some railed against the findings. HHS Secretary Tom Price said the numbers in the report "defy logic" and said it was incomplete because it only took into account the first of three planned phases for ACA repeal and replace.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, however, pulled out some of the more favorable parts from the report, citing CBO estimated AHCA would eventually lower premiums. “CBO also finds that this legislation will provide massive tax relief, dramatically reduce the deficit and make the most fundamental entitlement reform in more than a generation,” he said.
The report found 14 million more would be uninsured in 2018 with the AHCA than under current legislation. It also found that in 2026, a total of 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million under current law.
It also disputed claims that the individual market is in a “death spiral.”
“The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low healthcare expenditures for the market to be stable,” according to the report.
Top Republicans sent some mixed signals while making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows. Price said nobody would “be worse off financially” because of the law. Ryan said he did not know how many people would be covered but that it was more important to not require people to have coverage.
In trying to cast doubt on the CBO in general, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the CBO scoring of the ACA was “way, way off,” although much of it was close to accurate.