Stephanie Miller of Sandusky Ohio cries on the shoulder of President Barack Obama at a campaign event at Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio July 5, 2012. Under the GOP repeal plan, there could be a lot more tears. (File photoe)
WASHINGTON – The House-approved revised Obamacare repeal and replacement bill would strip 23 million Americans of their health coverage over the next decade, but also would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the same duration, according to a report released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Wednesday afternoon.
The CBO estimated that the original bill would have stripped 24 million people of their health coverage but would have cut the deficit by $151 billion over the next decade.
The American Health Care Act would allow states under certain circumstances to apply for waivers exempting coverage of certain essential health benefits mandated under the Affordable Care Act.
The American Health Care Act also would allow insurers to charge higher rates to persons with preexisting conditions who experience a lapse in coverage.
Democrats have long opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act and have instead tried to convince Republicans to work toward fixing problems associated with the law.
Critics of the Affordable Care Act have argued that while it has improved access to health insurance, it has not improved access to health care.
Many families who have purchased Affordable Care Act policies have been smacked with skyrocketing premiums and unaffordable deductibles.
Also many insurers have decided to opt out of participating in state Affordable Care Act exchanges due to cost concerns.
Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Senate Democrats will vigorously oppose the American Health Care Act while several Republicans in the upper-chamber have expressed concern over Medicaid cuts included in the House-approved bill.
The Trump administration’s FY 2018 budget proposes additional Medicaid cuts and was in part crafted so as to conform with the American Health Care Act.
House GOP leaders have not yet sent the American Health Care Act to the upper chamber but swift action is expected now that the CBO report confirms that the legislation meets the predicted 10-year, $2 billion savings threshold and therefore will most likely comply with Senate budget reconciliation rules.
Senate reconciliation rules allow the legislation to bypass the 60-vote threshold and instead pass with a simple majority.
Prior to the report’s release speculation mounted suggesting the lower chamber might have been forced to reconsider the American Health Care Act had the savings threshold not been met.
The legislation narrowly passed the House earlier this month.
Reactions to the new CBO score have thus far fallen along predictably partisan lines.
In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) applauded the projected savings and said that it would ultimately lower premiums.
“We are on a rescue mission to bring down the cost of coverage and make sure families have access to affordable care,” Ryan said. “This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit. It is another positive step toward keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
The Democratic National Committee immediately responded to the score’s release in an email to supporters by pointing to the 23 million who will lose coverage.
“We have to stop this bill in the Senate,” the email reads, hinting at the likely uphill battle the legislation will have in the upper chamber.
Bryan is a freelance political journalist who has extensive experience covering Congress and Maryland state government.
His work includes coverage of the election of Donald Trump, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions-as well as that of the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Larry Hogan, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan has broken stories involving athletic and sexual assault scandals with the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
His original UMBC investigation gained international attention, was featured in People Magazine and he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and local radio stations. Bryan broke subsequent stories documenting UMBC’s omission of a sexual assault on their daily crime log and a federal investigation related to the university’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.