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CBO: Republicans Health Care Repeal Would “Increase the Deficit” and the Uninsured

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan authority on budget legislation, estimated today that House Republicans’ bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (H.R. 2) would “increase in deficits to something in the vicinity of $230 billion.”

CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2 would increase federal deficits in the decade after 2019 by an amount that is in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP, plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes that CBO and JCT will include in the forthcoming estimate. For the decade beginning after 2021, the effect of H.R. 2 on federal deficits as a share of the economy would probably be somewhat larger.

Additionally, under the repeal bill, 32 million fewer Americans would have access to health coverage, taking our country back to the time when insurance companies determined a person’s eligibility for health care.

Under H.R. 2, about 32 million fewer nonelderly people would have health insurance in 2019, leaving a total of about 54 million nonelderly people uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, compared with a projected share of 94 percent under current law (and 83 percent currently).

In response to current GOP criticism that CBO’s analysis is not accurate, it’s worth noting that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley wrote in 2009 that “[f]or health care budgeting purposes, CBO’s word is the only one that counts.”

There’s no doubt saving $2 trillion in health care costs would be a move in the right direction. When the White House and the industry put concrete proposals on paper and get a score from the Congressional Budget Office, then we’ll know if the suggestions really achieve that kind of savings, and it’ll be big news.  For health care budgeting purposes, CBO’s word is the only one that counts.

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