WASHINGTON (CN) – The newly released Republican health care plan would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than under current law, the Congressional Budget Office found in a report released Monday.
The law, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would also trim the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next ten years, the CBO report found.
The White House blasted the findings in a statement issued Monday night, claiming “the CBO has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how healthcare legislation will impact insurance coverage.”
“This history of inaccuracy, as demonstrated by its flawed report on coverage, premiums, and predicted deficit arising out of Obamacare, reminds us that its analysis must not be trusted blindly,” the Trump administration said. “In 2013, the CBO estimated that 24 million people would have coverage under Obamacare by 2016. It was off by an astounding 13 million people – more than half—as less than 11 million were actually covered. Then, CBO estimated that 30 million fewer people would be uninsured in 2016, but then it had to reduce its estimate to 22 million, further illustrating its inability to present reliable healthcare predictions.”
Also late Monday, two Senate Republicans announced they would not support the bill on the procedural motion to bring it to the floor, putting the legislation on the brink of failure. Along with Sen. Rand Paul, who was in the group that opposed the bill immediately after its release, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced on Twitter that she would vote no on the bill’s first procedural test.
“I want to work with my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in the ACA,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “CBO analysis shows Senate bill won’t do it. I will vote no on [the motion to proceed].”
The highly anticipated report from the nonpartisan research service comes just days before Republicans are expected to vote on the sweeping health care overhaul, which would roll back the Medicaid expansion included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and repeal many of the current law’s taxes.
By comparison, the CBO found the House version of the health care repeal, which passed last month, would result in 23 million more people uninsured by 2026 as compared to current law.
Republican leaders in the Senate have said they expect to vote on the legislation on Thursday in an attempt to push the repeal through before the July 4 recess. Because they are using a process known as reconciliation, Republicans would only need 50 votes in favor to pass the legislation.
Most of the initial insurance losses the CBO estimated would come because the Republican plan does away with the Affordable Care Act’s penalty on people who choose not to buy health insurance,. Starting in 2018, 15 million more people would be uninsured under the Senate’s bill than under the current system, with that number jumping to 19 million in 2020 before peaking at 22 million by 2026.
The law’s deep cuts to Medicare and lower subsidies would also result in more people being uninsured, the CBO found. All told, 49 million people would be without insurance by 2026 if the Senate bill passed, as compared to 28 million if the law was kept as is.
Much like the House version of the repeal legislation, the Senate law would increase average premiums until 2020, after which time costs would start to fall as compared to the current law, the CBO found. However, the report found the average deductible would be higher and fewer low-income people would buy any plan at all, even though they would still be eligible for tax credits.
The report takes into account tweaks to the law Senate Republican leaders unveiled Monday that would require people who do not maintain continuous health coverage to wait for six months before enrolling again.
The waiting period would affect people who were without insurance for 63 or more days during a year, and Republicans hinted at the change last week after the first version of the bill was silent on people who did not maintain coverage.
The CBO estimated the new provision would “slightly increase the number of people with insurance” by 2026.
Democrats immediately latched onto the CBO score, using it to repeat criticisms of the bill that have become common in the weeks since the House passed its similar measure.
“Throwing 22 million Americans off of health insurance, raising premiums for older Americans, defunding Planned Parenthood and giving $231 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a cynical and immoral proposal,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement. “The reality is that this so-called ‘health care’ bill is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the very rich. All of us, including Republicans whose constituents depend on Medicaid to survive, must work together to see that this bill is defeated. Our job today is to improve the Affordable Care Act, not destroy it.”
Even with a planned vote just days away, Republican leadership faces a difficult path to passing their long-awaited chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Four conservative senators came out against the bill almost immediately after it was publically released last week, saying it was too much like the current law.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., later said he would not support the bill as written because of its cuts to Medicaid. Republicans could only afford to lose two of their own members in a vote on the legislation, assuming Democrats remain united in opposing the bill.
While Democrats blasted the CBO’s findings on the bill, Republicans focused on the projected reduction in premiums and the cuts to the federal deficit.
“Americans need relief from the failed Obamacare law,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “The Senate will soon take up action on a bill that the Congressional Budget Office just confirmed will reduce the growth in premiums under Obamacare, reduce taxes on the middle class and reduce the deficit. The American people need better care now and this legislation includes the necessary tools to provide it.”