Obamacare Repeal Would Raise Deficit, Cost People Insurance, Report Finds

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By Maggie Fox

If Republicans ever succeeded in repealing Obamacare, the U.S. budget deficit would soar by as much as $353 billion over 10 years and 24 million people would lose their health insurance, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Friday.

About 19 million people would lose insurance next year alone, the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation found in their report.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, known widely as Obamacare, was designed to bring health insurance to more people, change the rules for coverage so that companies cannot drop the sickest patients when they start to cost too much, and encourage the medical system to work more efficiently.

It’s cut the number of people who lack health insurance from about 18 percent of the population at one point in 2013 to about 13 percent now, through insurance people can buy in exchanges and through an expansion of Medicaid in certain states.

"CBO and JCT estimate that federal deficits would increase by $353 billion over the 2016–2025 period if the ACA was repealed."

Republicans have steadily attacked the law, saying they want to repeal it. A lawsuit now before the Supreme Court aims to undermine the law by questioning whether the federal government can subsidize insurance premiums in the 34 states that do not have their own exchanges.

The CBO report is not a simple back-and-white look at the numbers. Depending on how the accounting is done, the repeal would only raise the federal deficit by $137 billion over 10 years. That’s because the report had to consider economic feedback effects using a process called "dynamic scoring" that a Republican initiative in Congress now requires.

“All told, CBO and JCT estimate that repealing the ACA would raise federal deficits by $137 billion over the 2016– 2025 period through its impact on direct spending and on revenues,” the report reads.

"Excluding the effects of macroeconomic feedback—as has been done for previous estimates related to the ACA (and most other CBO cost estimates)—CBO and JCT estimate that federal deficits would increase by $353 billion over the 2016–2025 period if the ACA was repealed."

Right now, repeal is impossible. Republicans in Congress don't have the votes to do it.

The report points out that it is very difficult to forecast something as complicated as health insurance and medical costs to the nation.

But if the law was repealed, CBO projects that:

  • About 14 million fewer people would be enrolled in Medicaid.
  • About 18 million fewer people would have nongroup coverage.
  • About 8 million more people, on net, would have employment-based coverage.
  • About 24 million more nonelderly U.S. residents would be uninsured.
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