Fourteen million Americans would lose medical insurance by next year under a Republican plan to dismantle Obamacare that would also reduce the budget deficit, a nonpartisan congressional research office said on Monday, throwing President Donald Trump and Republicans on the defensive as they press forward with replacement legislation.
The U.S. Congressional Budget Office forecast that 24 million more people would be uninsured in 2026 if the plan being considered by the House of Representatives to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act were adopted. Obamacare, as President Barack Obama’s signature piece of domestic policy is commonly called, expanded insurance to about 20 million Americans. (bit.ly/2mkdeYA)
Hours after the CBO report was released, the House Budget Committee postponed its consideration of the Republican bill to Thursday from Wednesday. Prior to the report, Republicans had been planning to vote soon on the bill in the House, where it is likely to pass, and send it to the Senate, where its outlook is uncertain.
The CBO projected that 52 million people would be uninsured by 2026 if the bill became law, compared with 28 million who would not have coverage that year if the law remained unchanged.
Two House of Representatives committees have approved the legislation to dismantle Obamacare that was unveiled by Republican leaders a week ago, but it faces opposition from not only Democrats but also medical providers including doctors and hospitals and many conservatives. The CBO report’s findings could make the Republican plan a harder sell for lawmakers, particularly in the U.S. Senate.
The CBO, however, said federal deficits would fall by $337 billion between 2017 and 2026 under the Republican bill.
Some health policy experts and Wall Street analysts said the report was more draconian than expected, with the uninsured rate declining more quickly than foreseen. Doctors groups and patient advocates said the bill must be abandoned.
The AARP, a nonprofit advocacy group for aging Americans, said Monday that the CBO analysis showed the financial burden of the Republican plan would fall “disproportionately” on Americans 50 to 64 years old. In a five-page letter to House members last week, the AARP has also criticized a tax cut it said would threaten the solvency of Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, cuts to Medicaid and said the bill does nothing to lower drug costs.
Some Republicans worry a misfire on the Republican healthcare legislation could hobble Trump’s presidency and set the stage for losses for the party in the 2018 congressional elections.
The Trump administration defended the healthcare plan, which they say will have a second and third phase that will entice consumers. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said at the White House that Trump’s plan would cover more individuals at a lower cost and it was “virtually impossible” to envision that 14 million people would lose insurance coverage by next year.
Democratic leaders in Congress said the bill could result in elderly people being kicked out of nursing homes as it simultaneously gives tax cuts for the richest Americans.
“How can they look their constituents in the eye when they say 24 million of you no longer have coverage and those of you who do have it, will have less coverage at more cost to you,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Trump himself made no comment on the report.