CBO: Repeal of Reform Law Would Contribute to Uninsured Rolls, Deficit
Republican legislation (HR 2) seeking to repeal the federal health reform law would increase federal deficits by $230 billion by 2021 and would leave 32 million more U.S. residents without health insurance, according to a preliminary analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Los Angeles Times reports (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
House Republicans have scheduled a vote on the bill for Jan. 12 (California Healthline, 1/4).
CBO reported that although health premiums might be lower for some individuals in the event of the reform law's repeal, consumers would receive more limited coverage and many would pay more without the subsidies provided by the law (Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
The report forecasts health costs from 2012-2021, according to CQ Today. CBO also released projections for the 2012-2019 period, saying budget deficits would "probably increase" by around $145 billion.
CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a separate letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that "CBO has seen no evidence to date" that implementing the reform law "will yield overall budgetary effects that differ significantly" from its original projections for the reform bill.
Boehner's office released an alternate analysis of the reform bill, prepared by Republicans on the House Budget Committee, which said, "The health care law will cost the nation $2.6 trillion when fully implemented, and add $701 billion to the deficit in its first 10 years."
Boehner responded to CBO's projections for the repeal bill by saying, "I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit," adding, "CBO is entitled to their opinion, but they're locked within constraints of the 1974 Budget Act" (Ethridge, CQ Today, 1/6).
He explained, "CBO can only provide a score based on the assumptions that are given to them. If you go back and look at the health care bill and the assumptions that were given [then], you see all of the double-counting that went on" (Bendavid, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 1/6).
Responding to Boehner's comments, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, said, "When you don't like the call on the field, it's not part of the rules of the game that you throw the referee off the field, and substitute your judgment," adding, "It's a very dangerous precedent to politicize [CBO]. We can argue about the policy impacts, but we shouldn't be arguing about the facts."
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said using partisan arguments about CBO mocks the department's intended function. She said, "We might as well just make it up as we go along" (Lillis/Millman, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/6).