- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday released an analysis of the Senate’s most recent plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with no immediate replacement.
- The nonpartisan agency found the move would increase the number of uninsured by 17 million next year, 27 million by 2020 and 32 million in 2026.
- Average premiums in the nongroup market would increase by about 25% next year and nearly double by 2026, according to the estimate.
The numbers in the latest CBO estimate are largely similar to the agency’s January analysis of the 2015 bill to repeal the ACA, and they still represent a hurdle for Republicans intent on taking some action regarding healthcare this summer. One of the main reasons the Senate’s ACA replacement bill floundered was the CBO’s estimate it would lead to 15 million people without coverage as early as next year. The new report confirms the repeal-only approach would have an even harsher impact on health insurance coverage.
Republicans are getting heavy pressure from President Donald Trump and other party leaders to vote on a healthcare measure before they leave town next month for the annual summer break. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s plans broke down earlier this week when it became clear he would not have enough votes for the Better Care and Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which repealed most of the ACA and made drastic cuts to Medicaid. He quickly moved to the repeal-only plan, but a handful of more moderate Republican senators said they would not support that move either.
The ACA seems safe for now, but McConnell may still hold a vote on repeal — if only to have some action to point to and to force lawmakers against the measure to go on the record. But there is little indication Republicans will come to an agreement on healthcare action anytime soon.
That doesn’t mean nothing relevant will come out of Washington, D.C. Congress could still draft a bill to stabilize the individual market, or the Trump administration could insist on pushing the market into further disarray in an attempt to force Democrats to accept a rollback of the ACA. The White House also has several ways to undermine the ACA even if it remains on the books.
The healthcare industry will largely be relieved if and when plans to gut the ACA are officially tabled. But the uncertainty remains problematic. Payers in particular are frustrated because they don’t know whether they will continue to receive cost-sharing reduction payments.