GOP Health Care Bill Includes Steep Medicaid Cuts, CBO Says

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate Republican health care plan would cut Medicaid spending by 26 percent in 2026 and by 35 percent by 2035, the Congressional Budget Office said Thursday.

The new report from the Congressional Budget Office seeks to project changes in Medicaid spending under the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

A previous report from the nonpartisan research service found 22 million fewer people would have insurance if the law passed, but only looked at the period until 2026.

The new report runs until 2036 and confirms that the Republican plan would cut the rate of growth for Medicaid as compared to the current plan, though it cautions such predictions are difficult because of potential changes in health trends.

Instead of growing by 5.1 percent each year for the next two decades as currently projected under federal law, the program would grow by 1.9 percent until 2026 and at 3.5 percent each year until 2036, according to the report.

The CBO predicts that under current law Medicaid spending would be 2.4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product by 2036, while if the Senate bill passed it would fall to 1.6 percent.

The report also predicts that changes to how the federal government funds the Medicaid program would force states to either be more efficient, cut repayments to health care providers, or offer fewer services to Medicaid enrollees.

“Under this legislation, after the next decade, states would continue to need to arrive at more efficient methods for delivering services (to the extent feasible) and to decide whether to commit more of their own resources, cut payments to health care providers and health plans, eliminate optional services, restrict eligibility for enrollment, or adopt some combination of those approaches,” the report states. “Over the long term, there would be increasing pressure on more states to use all of those tools to a greater extent.”

The Republican proposal would change how the federal government funds the Medicaid program, phasing out enhanced funding levels included in the Affordable Care Act and capping the amount of federal funding that goes to each person in a state enrolled in Medicaid.

The report came at the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden, who holds the same spot on the Senate Finance Committee, according to the report.

“This new CBO report makes clear that the Senate’s Trumpcare bill would cause people to lose their Medicaid coverage, blow a huge hole in state budgets that would make states choose between raising taxes on the middle class or gutting funding for priorities like health care and education, and make it harder for families with a loved one in a nursing home or a disabled child to afford get the care they need,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on the new report.

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