Health

Report: GOP Bill Could Kick 22 Million Off Health Care

| by Robert Fowler
Surgeons perform a medical operationSurgeons perform a medical operation

While the Congressional Budget Office has not yet released a score for Senate Republicans' plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, six budget analysts have estimated that the legislation would likely result in up to 22 more million Americans not having health insurance within a decade than if the current health care law was kept in place.

The CBO is expected to release its estimate on how the Better Care Reconciliation Act, Senate Republicans' bill to replace the ACA, would impact the health care market on June 26. That same day, six budget analysts predicted that the score would indicate that between 15 million to 22 million would lose health coverage by 2026, Politico reports.

Matt Fiedler of the Brookings Institution declined to predict the CBO's findings but offered a grave assessment.

"What I can say with confidence is that the Senate bill will lead to very large coverage losses," Fiedler asserted. "The only question is how large."

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The CBO had given highly unflattering scores to both versions of the House Republicans' American Health Care Act. In March, the agency projected that passage of the AHCA would result in 24 million fewer insured Americans by 2026. In May, it estimated that 23 million fewer Americans would be covered under a revised version of the House bill.

The Trump administration will likely dismiss whatever CBO score is offered for the Better Care Reconciliation Act. On June 25, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price asserted that the nonpartisan agency's projections were faulty.

"The CBO does a great job on budget; they do a relatively poor job of what the coverage consequences of a health care plan are," Price told The Atlantic. "Their ability -- anybody's ability -- to predict what human behavior is going to be without look at the entire construct, is difficult."

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On May 23, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney deemed the CBO obsolete.

"The days of relying on some nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to do that work for us has probably come and gone ... To defer to them, I think is giving them way too much authority," Mulvaney told the Washington Examiner.

Former CBO director Doug Holtz-Eakin, a conservative, has pushed back on assertions that his former agency is partisan or compromised.

"I believe it's reasonable for people to disagree where CBO comes down sometimes," Holtz-Eakin said. "I don't like it when people attack the integrity of [the] CBO or somehow accuse them of tilting the playing field."

GOP budget expert Bill Hoagland believes that Republican lawmakers will have to heed the CBO projections whether they like the agency or not.

"I would be very, very worried for Republicans to dismiss the CBO estimates," Hoagland said. "It was established specifically for the purpose of what we're going through -- an objective analysis of [major] congressional legislation."

The Senate can still pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act if two or fewer GOP lawmakers vote against the bill. If three or more Republicans vote against the legislation, it would fail to move to the House.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who has expressed concern about the impact of the ACA replacement, has announced that she will decide her vote based on "what CBO says."

Sources: The AtlanticPolitico, Washington Examiner / Photo credita: Pixabay, Mark Taylor/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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