US Budget Office Estimates Senate Healthcare Bill Will Leave 22 Million More Uninsured by 2026

Source: FirstWord

According to a report released Monday by the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO), draft legislation unveiled by the Senate last week to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act will increase the number of uninsured people in the country by 22 million by 2026, compared to current law. The CBO had previously estimated that a healthcare bill passed by the House of Representatives in May would leave 23 million more people without insurance in 2026. 

The nonpartisan budget office noted that under the Senate's proposal, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, 15 million more people would lose insurance by the end of next year than under current law, "primarily because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated." The report also said lower spending on Medicaid than under existing legislation, as well as "substantially smaller average subsidies" in the individual market, would result in more people being uninsured in the following years. The office also projected that enrollment in Medicaid will decline by approximately 16 percent by 2026. 

Moreover, the CBO estimated that the Senate proposal would lead to average premium increases of 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2018 and 2019. However, average premiums in most of the country should be about 20 percent lower by 2026 than they would be relative to current law, in part due to lesser coverage, while deductibles and other cost-sharing mechanisms could increase. "Because non-group insurance would pay for a smaller average share of benefits under this legislation, most people purchasing it would have higher out-of-pocket spending on healthcare than under current law," the budget office stated. 

The CBO said the Senate bill is also expected to reduce the deficit by about $321 billion from 2017 to 2026, mostly due to a drop in spending for Medicaid, whereas the budget office had estimated that the House bill would cut the deficit by $119 billion.

Meanwhile, prior to the release of the CBO report, the American Medical Association on Monday officially came out in opposition to the Senate bill. However, insurer Anthem argued that the proposed legislation "would markedly improve the stability of the individual market." 

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