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CBO Report Warns GOP ‘Healthcare’ Plan Would Yank Insurance from 24 Million Americans

CBO Report Nukes GOP Healthcare Delusions

The Congressional Budget Office released its findings on the American Healthcare Act, a sweeping healthcare overhaul bill that would partially repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill is currently bogged down in Congress. Republicans, who control both chambers, shielded the bill from the public, including their Democratic counterparts, until it was unveiled. Part of the secrecy was intended to introduce the bill without any comment by the CBO, a nonpartisan commission which analyzes the economic implications of major legislation. And now we know why. The CBO’s report is damning in the extreme.

Related: Koch Bros Furious at GOP for ACA Replacement, Threaten to Fire up Tea Party Primary Machine

Hardcore Republicans might find morsels to enjoy in the report. It will reduce the deficit by over $300 billion over the next decade, for example, a result of simply ripping large scale appropriation out of the budget. But the real world consequences are horrifying. The key passage describes what effect it will have on the insurance markets, and average Americans’ access to health insurance,

Effects on Health Insurance Coverage

To estimate the budgetary effects, CBO and JCT projected how the legislation would change the number of people who obtain federally subsidized health insurance through Medicaid, the nongroup market, and the employment-based market, as well as many other factors.

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.

Later, following additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program, the increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026. The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment—because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

The Republican law would cause 24 million people to lose their health insurance by the end of the ensuing decade. That’s more than the population of Australia. It’s almost the population of Texas. It’s roughly 10% of the adult population of the United States. Paul Ryan and the Grand Ol’ Party are proposing to rip the health insurance out of the hands of one out of every ten Americans over the age of 18 between now and ten years from now. The economic uncertainty that would cause would be catastrophic.

Apart from the tens of millions of people who would be cast back onto the mercy of healthcare-by-emergency-room-visit, even Americans who were covered would see their costs rise. Just as the Affordable Care Act enrolling almost 12 million Americans as of 2017 dramatically slowed down the rate at which healthcare costs increase every year, for the same reasons, kicking twice that number off of their health insurance would raise costs for everyone. It’s worth repeating those numbers. Obamacare provided insurance to 12 million Americans. The Republican plan would take insurance away from twice that number of people. By the time the law takes full effect, the situation would be significantly worse than it was before Obama became president.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s response to the report was … bizarre.

It’s hard to be nice about this, because Ryan is either illiterate or lying. The idea that gutting Obamacare would give people more choices and better more affordable care is nonsense. The CBO report says that more people will pay more for insurance that covers less. More people could be denied or charged more for coverage. Risk pools will be gutted as people opt out, and the market will contract. In the longterm, younger healthy people might pay less, but only because they’re getting far lower quality coverage. Getting better coverage later in life would cost them a lot more.

The insurance companies denying claims, capping lifetime coverage for children with major conditions, etc., was out of control before Obamacare. Now it’s a safer environment and costs increases are slowing down. Republicans aren’t giving you “freedom” by gutting the entire idea of health insurance, that healthy people opt in to pay for the coverage of sick people, so that everyone can afford insurance. The entire plan is not about healthcare, but rather, “wealthcare.” Which is to say, that it is thinly veiled code for the rich to get a ginormous tax break on the backs of average Americans. And millions of Americans can just go ahead and die for it.

Marc Belisle is the Reverb Press World Affairs Editor. He is a writer, activist and teacher. He has a Master's degree in International Conflict Analysis from the Brussels School of International Studies. READ MORE BY MARC.