CBO: Latest GOP Health Care Bill Could Lead to 22M More Uninsured

Despite tweaks, Congressional Budget Office notes little change from prior versions

Protests continued around Capitol Hill this week as Senate Republicans attempt a last-ditch effort to save their legislation to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An updated version of the Republican plan to overhaul the U.S. insurance system would lead to an additional 22 million uninsured individuals over the next 10 years, according to an analysis released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. 

It would also increase premium costs by 20 percent in 2018 and 10 percent in 2019, before lowering them by 30 percent in 2020. It would reduce the federal deficit by $420 billion, the budget office said. 

The new analysis is another blow to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who added $70 billion in additional funding intended to help shore up the existing markets in the hopes it would improve the long-term impacts of the bill. 

Most of the top-line findings in Thursday’s analysis remained similar to the CBO estimate of a previous draft of the proposal

A controversial amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas that would allow insurers to offer plans that are non-compliant with the current health law under certain conditions was not included in the draft that CBO reviewed, along with the additional $70 billion to help cover high-risk individuals that was in a prior version. 

Lawmakers have said the budget office needs more time to review that proposal because of its complexity.

GOP leadership is considering adding even more money into the bill in an attempt to sway members who are worried about the proposed changes to the Medicaid program, according to several GOP aides.

Separately, lawmakers like Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and John Hoeven of North Dakota are working on an amendment intended to help states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the 2010 health law. 

The new draft would allow individuals to purchase insurance from a Health Savings Account, an amendment that also came from Cruz. It would still impose a stricter growth rate on Medicaid beginning in 2025 and phase-out the law’s expansion of the entitlement program by 2024. 

Senate GOP leaders’ strategy remains to hold a procedural vote on the House-passed repeal and replace measure early next week. Should McConnell have enough votes to clear that hurdle, it remains to be seen what legislation the chamber will vote on. 

Just a day after McConnell pronounced the health care effort effectively dead, lawmakers huddled late Wednesday night in Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso’s office to try to reach a deal

As Republicans continue to negotiate, the CBO on Wednesday said a separate bill from the GOP that would simply repeal large portions of the health law on a two-year delay would lead to an additional 32 million uninsured individuals over 10 years, compared to the current trajectory, as well as lead to a doubling of premiums in that time-frame. 

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