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article image24M fewer Americans insured under GOP Obamacare replacement: CBO

By Brett Wilkins     Mar 13, 2017 in Health
Washington - Despite President Donald Trump's pledge of "insurance for everybody," 24 million fewer Americans will have health coverage under the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated on Monday.
The CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) project 14 million more people will be left uninsured under the American Health Care Act drafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and approved by President Trump than under the current Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. "Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate," the report explains. "Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums."
By 2020, CBO forecasts 21 million more Americans will be without coverage relative to the current law and by 2026, that figure is predicted to soar to 24 million  —52 million people are expected to be uninsured, compared to 28 million who would be without insurance under Obamacare.
The CBO's findings are vastly different from repeated promises made by President Trump that every American would enjoy affordable health insurance. "I am going to take care of everybody," Trump told CBS News in September 2015. "Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now... the government's gonna pay for it."
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump reaffirmed in January.
Trump's promise of more affordable health coverage is also contradicted by the CBO report, which predicts insurance premiums will rise until 2020 and then decrease. "In 2018 and 2019, according to CBO and JCT’s estimates, average premiums for single policyholders in the non-group market would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher than under current law, mainly because the individual mandate penalties would be eliminated, inducing fewer comparatively healthy people to sign up," the report states.
"The CBO score shows just how empty the president's promises — that everyone will be covered and costs will go down — have been," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. "This should be a looming stop sign for the Republicans' repeal effort."
One major silver lining to the CBO report forecasts a $337 billion reduction in the federal budget deficit by 2026. "That change would result from a $1.2 trillion decrease in direct spending, partially offset by an $883 billion reduction in revenues," the report explains.
Speaker Ryan dismissed concerns about tens of millions of Americans losing their health coverage. "The one thing I'm certain will happen is CBO will say, 'Well, gosh, not as many people will get coverage.' You know why? Because this isn't a government mandate,'" Ryan said on CBS's Face The Nation on Sunday. "We're not going to make an American do what they don't want to do," Ryan added. "You get it if you want it."
However, millions of Americans who want insurance will not be able to get it under the Republican plan, with the nation's most vulnerable people — the poor, people of color, the mentally and chronically ill and the elderly — likely suffering the most. On the other hand, wealthy Americans earning more than $1 million annually will save a collective $144 billion in tax cuts under the GOP plan, with substantial tax savings for those earning between $200,000 and $1 million as well. “Repeal-and-replace [of Obamacare] is a gigantic transfer of wealth from the lowest-income Americans to the highest-income Americans,” Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the University of Southern California law school and former JCT chief of staff, told the New York Times.
Before implementation of the ACA, some 45,000 annual U.S. deaths were linked to lack of health insurance, according to Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance. Obamacare extended health coverage to 20 million previously uninsured people and lowered the national uninsured rate to the lowest number ever recorded.
Democrats have warned that the Republican repeal-and-replace plan will "make America sick again." The American Health Care Act has also been blasted by leading Republicans, with conservative critics calling it "Obamacare 2.0," "Obamacare Lite" and, in the case of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, "socialized medicine."
More about Congressional budget office, 24 million americans will lose health coverage, obamacare replacement, american health care act, Trump administration
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