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26 Jun, 2017 20:31

22mn Americans to lose health insurance under Senate Obamacare repeal bill ‒ CBO

22mn Americans to lose health insurance under Senate Obamacare repeal bill ‒ CBO

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessed the Republican-proposed healthcare bill facing the US Senate will cost 22 million people insurance by 2026, even as the GOP amended the bill to prevent people from gaming the system by letting coverage lapse.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) unveiled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, expanding on the version narrowly approved by the House of Representatives on May 4.

The Senate bill would offer subsidies based on income rather than age-based tax credits, prevent states from opting out of insurance requirements related to pre-existing conditions, and further cut the Medicaid expansion authorized under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ‒ also known as Obamacare.

Monday’s amendment addresses the potential loophole left by the abolition of Obamacare’s individual mandate to purchase insurance. Since the Republican proposal keeps the requirement for insurance companies to offer coverage to everyone, including people with pre-existing conditions, the amendment puts in place a penalty for people who let their insurance lapse.

People who let their coverage expire for at least 63 days would be locked out of the insurance market for six months the following year, according to the amendment.

Because the repeal is structured as a budget reconciliation bill, it would require only a simple majority in the Senate. Though McConnell has said he wanted a vote on the bill before the Senate goes on a holiday recess next week, no Democrats are prepared to back it, while five Republican senators have come out in opposition as well. If more than two GOP senators defect, the bill will fail.

One of those opposed, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), blasted the GOP bill for not going far enough to address problems caused by Obamacare.

"I'm afraid that the death spiral of Obamacare will get worse under the current Senate version," Paul told CNN on Monday.

“We need to accept that Obamacare is dead,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday, adding that the choice was now between the Republican proposal and the $33 trillion single-payer plan pitched by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and backed by congressional Democrats.

The American Medical Association has been critical of the proposal, most notably in regards to Medicaid cutbacks and prohibition of using Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood.

According to the CBO report released on Monday afternoon, the Senate proposal would result in 22 million Americans losing their health insurance coverage by 2026. The CBO assessment of the House bill in May said that 14 million Americans would lose insurance by 2018, while a total of 23 million would lose insurance within a decade.

“By 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the CBO estimate said.

It would also cut the federal deficit by $321 billion over 10 years, thanks to the deep cuts to Medicaid and paying for fewer subsidies to help people purchase insurance. The House bill would only cut the deficit by $133 billion.