GOP health care plan would cause 23 million people to lose insurance, CBO says


The American Health Care Act would cause 23 million people to lose health insurance over the next decade, and would disproportionally impact older, poorer Americans, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The 23 million people losing insurance thanks to the AHCA is not a substantial difference from an earlier version of the GOP health care plan, which Republicans say makes good on their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare. 

An initial CBO score of the original AHCA predicted 24 million people would lose their health insurance coverage by 2026. That initial score helped kill the GOP's first attempt to pass the health care bill in March.

House Republicans passed an amended version of the AHCA earlier this month, sending the GOP's long-promised "Obamacare repeal" bill to the Senate.

The amended version of the bill — which would allow states to waive pre-existing condition protections as well as mandates on procedures and services insurance companies must cover — had not been scored by the CBO when the House passed it.

But the CBO has now scored the amended version, and the analysis is unlikely to make the bill any easier for the Senate to pass.

For example, a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year in a state that took waivers would see their premium rise from $1,700 a year to $13,600, the CBO says of the amended AHCA. That's a 700% increase. 

Even more, the CBO says the provision allowing states to waive pre-existing conditions would have sweeping negative consequences for those with existing health conditions.

"Premiums would be substantially higher than previously estimated for less healthy people in some states," that take the waiver, the CBO said in the report.

Democrats warned Republicans not to pass the amended AHCA without the CBO score, saying Congress needed to better understand the bill's impact before voting on it. 

In fact, Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) demanded that the ACA receive a CBO score before Congress voted on it back in 2009, when the law was being debated. The GOP did not follow its own advice eight years later.

May 24, 2017 5 p.m.: This article has been updated