Quick Takes: 22 Million Will Lose Health Coverage Under McConnell’s Bill

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

CBO released their score on McConnell’s health care bill this afternoon. Here are the top line numbers:

* The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law…By 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

* CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 15 million more people would be uninsured under this legislation than under current law.

* By 2026, among people under age 65, enrollment in Medicaid would fall by about 16 percent.

* CBO and JCT estimate that enacting this legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $321 billion.

* The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid—spending on the program would decline in 2026 by 26 percent in comparison with what CBO projects under current law—and from changes to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for nongroup health insurance.

* The largest increases in deficits would come from repealing or modifying tax provisions in the ACA that are not directly related to health insurance coverage, including repealing a surtax on net investment income and repealing annual fees imposed on health insurers.

* The legislation would increase average premiums in the nongroup market prior to 2020 and lower average premiums thereafter, relative to projections under current law, CBO and JCT estimate…Some people enrolled in nongroup insurance would experience substantial increases in what they would spend on health care even though benchmark premiums would decline, on average, in 2020 and later years. Because nongroup insurance would pay for a smaller average share of benefits under this legislation, most people purchasing it would have higher out-of-pocket spending on health care than under current law.

To summarize the “fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation” – 22 million people would lose their health insurance (15 million next year), Medicaid enrollment would fall by 16 percent, out of pocket expenses would go up for most people and budget savings of $321 million would come mostly from cutting Medicaid/subsidies. All of that is done in order to repeal a surtax on investment income and get rid of annual fees imposed on health insurers.

This is the bill Mitch McConnell crafted in secret with no hearings or committee input and wants to vote on before the end of this week. I’m not going to get into the predictions business about what those so-called “moderate Republicans” will do now that the ugly truth is out there for everyone to see. Are they still simply “concerned,” or will these hard facts from CBO force them to take a stand? I don’t know. But it’s hard to imagine why any American would trust a Republican Party that would knowingly chose to do this to people.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.