CBO: New version of AHCA still leaves 23M uninsured

"What a disgrace," Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday in response to the new analysis of the AHCA.
By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated May 25, 2017 at 7:33 AM
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May 24 (UPI) -- Republican lawmakers' third attempt at replacing the Affordable Care Act has already passed the House, but an uncertain climate in the Senate -- as well as a new forecast analysis Wednesday -- could dim the bill's prospects at becoming law.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued its review of the current American Health Care Act proposal on Wednesday, saying it would leave 14 million more Americans uninsured next year than the ACA would have.

The CBO's analysis of the first two versions of the AHCA, the second of which was pulled before getting a vote in the House, noted that 24 million Americans would lose coverage by 2026. Wednesday's report said the new bill doesn't improve on that figure much, as it would still leave 23 million uncovered over the same period -- a net gain of about 1 million people.

Further, the new proposal also would cut the federal deficit by $119 billion in the next decade -- the lowest amount of all three versions -- the CBO report said. The first showed a savings of $337 billion and the second $150 billion.

"CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under [the new proposal] than under current law," the CBO report stated. "The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026.

"In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks."

Democrats criticized House Republicans on May 4 when they narrowly passed the new AHCA bill by a vote of 217-213, partly because they pushed it onto the Senate before seeing the new CBO analysis.

Now that the report has been issued, the GOP proposal, known colloquially as "Trumpcare," is again the target of Democratic lawmakers.

"Today's devastating CBO score hammers home Trumpcare's dire consequences for working families and seniors across the country," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "House Republicans have tattooed themselves with a Trumpcare bill that means higher costs, 23 million hard-working Americans losing coverage, shredding key protections, a crushing age tax and stealing from Medicare."

One of the primary reasons the first two editions of the AHCA failed was because it didn't have enough Democrat or Republican support. Conservatives didn't like it because they said it didn't go far enough in repealing the ACA, and other GOP lawmakers shunned the proposal because they said it would leave too many Americans without insurance.

Wednesday's report is expected to foster the same concerns for the new bill in the Senate. The upper chamber has already said it plans to make major changes to the House version of the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that the bill presently doesn't have enough votes to pass.

"Despite the pleas of families across America and the urgent warnings of almost every doctors' and patient group, Republicans are still pushing to enact this moral monstrosity," Pelosi added.

"The GOP should drop their dangerous attempts to sabotage healthcare for millions and work [with] Democrats to improve our healthcare system," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said Wednesday.

"A 'healthcare' plan does not throw 23 million people off of healthcare. That's a 'destroy healthcare' plan," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said. "What a disgrace."

House Speaker Paul Ryan responded Wednesday by praising the report, which did acknowledge the "slight" gain on coverage the new AHCA version offers over the previous two.

"This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our missions: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit," Ryan said. "It is another positive step toward keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare."

"The CBO also identified that this bill will reduce the deficit by $119 billion, paving the way for the Senate to do its work to repeal and replace Obamacare," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy added.

The new analysis, though, warned that premiums under the new AHCA would fluctuate greatly depending on the health of American buyers.

"Average premiums for insurance purchased individually -- that is, nongroup insurance -- would be lower, in part because the insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of healthcare costs," the CBO said. "Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums."

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