Repeal & Replace Watch

Deciphering The CBO Estimates On The GOP Health Bill

Federal budget experts estimate that people will lose insurance and that drop will begin quickly. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its estimate of the effect that the Republican health bill, “The American Health Care Act,” would have on the nation’s health care system and how much it would cost the federal government. The GOP plan is designed to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama administration.

Here are some of the CBO highlights:

—$337 billion reduction in the deficit. That’s CBO’s estimate over the next decade. That takes into account both decreased government spending in the form of less help to individuals to purchase insurance and lower payments to states for the Medicaid program. It also includes decreased revenues from the repeal of the taxes imposed by the ACA to pay for the new benefits.

—24 million more people without insurance in a decade. The federal budget experts estimate that people will lose insurance and that drop will begin quickly. In 2018, they say 14 million more people would join the ranks of the uninsured. It would reach the 24 million by 2026, when “an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”

—15 to 20 percent increase in 2018 premiums, but relief would follow. Monthly costs for insurance would go up at first, due to the elimination of the requirement for most people to have insurance or else pay a tax penalty. After 2018, CBO estimates that average premiums would actually drop by 10 percent by 2026 compared to current law. That is because the lower prices for younger people would encourage more to sign up. By contrast, the law would “substantially [raise] premiums for older people.”

—$880 billion drop in federal Medicaid spending over the decade. That comes primarily by imposing, for the first time, a cap on federal contributions to the program for those with low incomes.

—14 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026. That’s 17 percent fewer than projected under current law. The projection includes people who are currently eligible and would lose coverage, as well as people who might have become eligible if more states, as expected, expanded coverage under the ACA. CBO projects that is unlikely to happen now.

—95 percent of people who are getting Medicaid through the health law’s expansion would lose that enhanced federal funding. The CBO estimates that only 5 percent of enrollees in the expansion program would remain eligible for the higher federal payments by 2024 since the bill would phase out those payments to states as patients cycle in and out of eligibility.

—15 percent of Planned Parenthood clinic patients would “lose access to care.” These patients generally live in areas without other sources of medical care for low-income people. The Republican bill would cut out Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood for a year.

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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