WASHINGTON – The Republican plan to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act without a ready replacement would leave 32 million more people uninsured by 2026 than under current law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday.
The plan, which appears to already have enough Republican opponents in the Senate to sink it, would also decrease the deficit by $473 billion while doubling premiums by 2026, the CBO report released on Wednesday afternoon found.
The proposal would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, but would delay repeal of most of the law’s provisions for two years, which Republican leadership has said is necessary so they can work on a replacement plan.
The losses in the number of people with insurance would start right away, with 17 million more people being uninsured in 2018 than predicted under current law. Most of this would be because the law immediately repeals the Obamacare requirement that most people buy health insurance, though the CBO also notes that insurers might leave the market ahead of the full repeal.
In addition, repealing the so-called individual mandate but keeping some market regulations in place as the law does “would destabilize the nongroup market and the effect would worsen over time,” the CBO report states.
By 2020, half of the country would live in places without a company offering insurance on the nongroup market, with that number jumping to three-quarters of the country by 2026, according to the report.
“The ACA’s changes to the rules governing the nongroup health insurance market work in conjunction with the mandate and the subsidies to increase participation in the market and encourage enrollment among people of different ages and health statuses,” the report states. “But eliminating the penalty for not having health insurance would reduce enrollment and raise premiums in the nongroup market.”
By 2020 there would be 27 million fewer people with insurance than under the current law after the elimination of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, with the number peaking at 32 million in 2026. The trend for premiums would be similar, starting with a 25 percent increase in 2018 before eventually doubling by 2026, according to the report.
Republicans moved to a simple repeal of the law from their own plan to replace Obamacare earlier this week, when Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran became the third and fourth Republicans to come out against the bill. Republicans could only afford two defections in order to still have enough support to bring the bill to the floor for a decisive vote.
But even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to continue forward with a vote on the repeal-only bill, which the Senate passed in 2015 only for it to be vetoed by President Barack Obama, multiple Republicans have already explicitly said they do not support repealing Obamacare without a ready replacement.
In addition to Sens. Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski, who came out against a repeal-only bill a day after McConnell announced it as his intention, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday that it isn’t “appropriate to just repeal.”
Still, earlier on Wednesday President Donald Trump pressured Republicans to come up with a plan, though he backed off earlier calls for them to repeal Obamacare without a replacement.
“I’m ready to act,” Trump told Republican senators at a lunch at the White House Wednesday, according to a pool report. “People are hurting. Inaction is not an option and frankly I don’t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give people great health care. Because we’re close, we’re very close.”
Democrats have insisted that Republicans should work with them to fix problems with Obamacare rather than demanding a wholesale repeal. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer used the most recent CBO score to urge Republicans to do just that, an idea that seems to have gained traction as previous plans have lost support.
“The latest CBO score of the Senate Republican ‘repeal and run’ bill confirms: it was a horrible idea in January and it’s a horrible idea now,” Schumer said in a statement. “President Trump and Republicans have repeatedly promised to lower premiums and increase coverage, yet each proposal they offer would do the opposite. Instead of careening towards a plan that would devastate the American health care system, Republicans should work with Democrats to pass real solutions to lower premiums, stabilize the market and improve coverage for millions of Americans”