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New CBO Report Finds Deep Medicaid Cuts in GOP Bill

The Senate health care bill’s Medicaid cuts would grow even deeper after a decade, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Congressional budget Office.
Image: U.S. Capitol Building at sunset
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen at sunset on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 8, 2017.Michael Reynolds / EPA file

WASHINGTON — The Senate health care bill’s Medicaid cuts would grow even deeper after a decade, according to a new report Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional budget Office, leaving more people without coverage under the government program.

The new report complements the CBO’s main analysis of the Senate bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which found Medicaid would spend 26 percent less and cover 15 million fewer people in 2026 if the bill passed. The Senate bill caps Medicaid spending and, starting in 2025, grows it at a rate of inflation that’s expected to be less generous than either current law or the House bill, which included major cuts as well.

While the CBO warns that projecting beyond the first decade is difficult, the new report estimates that the slower growth rate would drive relative spending down even further in the second decade. By 2036, the government would spend 35 percent less on Medicaid than it would under current law.

If states couldn’t find ways to administer the program more efficiently, they would be forced to raise taxes, cut benefits, heighten eligibility requirements, or reduce payments to doctors and hospitals to make up the decline.

According to CBO, the reduce spending would likely mean states would cover fewer people. The report predicted “enrollment in Medicaid would continue to fall relative to what would happen under the extended baseline.”

Medicaid has been a major point of conflict between conservative and moderate Republicans in passing a bill. Senators like Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have expressed fears that the bill’s changes would cut off care for poor residents and strain hospitals.

More conservative senators, such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), argue that the slower rates are necessary to keep federal spending under control.