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27 Jul, 2017 18:24

15mn Americans would opt out of Obamacare if they could – CBO

15mn Americans would opt out of Obamacare if they could – CBO

By next year, 15 million people would opt out of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, if one of its key provisions – individual mandate – were repealed today, shows an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office.

Getting rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate, which imposes financial penalties on people who don’t buy insurance, would leave 15 million uninsured, according to the CBO.

The congressional body tasked with estimating the budget impact of proposed bills said by 2026 the number of uninsured as a result of repealing the individual mandate would be 16 million people.

Many Democrats have interpreted the estimates as the number of people who would be deprived of insurance as a result of the provision’s repeal. However, some analysts see it as the number of Americans who were forced into Obamacare.

“If the CBO projections are correct, there are 15 million Americans who would directly benefit from the repeal,” said Scott Rasmussen, the founder of conservative-leaning polling outlet Rasmussen Reports.

“If the individual mandate were to be repealed, many Americans might be interested in purchasing less comprehensive and less expensive coverage. The CBO has offered no estimates of how many might take advantage of such alternatives,” Rasmussen added. “It is currently illegal for insurance companies to offer less expensive plans offering less comprehensive coverage.”

Having failed to secure enough votes for a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act, congressional Republicans are planning to put forward what they call a 'skinny repeal.'

Not much is known about the new proposal as of Thursday morning, as Republicans lawmakers have yet to publish the text of the bill, but preliminary reports suggest that it would eliminate Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, along with some of its taxes.

It is also expected to commit $45 billion for states to spend on opioid addiction treatment.

The Consumer Freedom amendment proposed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or elements of it could also be included in the 'skinny repeal' bill that Republicans are preparing.

Cruz says his amendment would lower costs and raise individual enrollment by allowing insurers to sell cheaper plans to healthier people.

Many Democrats and some Republicans have objected to the measure, saying it would raise premiums for sicker people.

The 'skinny' repeal bill is “expected to accelerate health plans leaving the individual market, increase premiums, and result in fewer Americans having access to coverage,” a bipartisan group of governors, including Republicans Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, John Kasich of Ohio, and Phil Scott of Vermont, wrote in a joint letter Wednesday.

The CBO had previously estimated that repealing the individual mandate would raise premiums by somewhere between 10 and 20 percent – the increase would be driven by healthier people buying cheaper insurance, and the sicker paying more.

Congressional Republicans have for years pushed to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation. However, with Trump waiting to sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the GOP has so far failed to unite behind one plan.

On Monday, the president scolded GOP senators who “have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare.”

Trump also called Obamacare a “big, fat ugly lie,” citing as an example Obama’s 2009 statement: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.”