It’s Not Just a Number

Originally published at ThirdandState.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Republican health care plan, the ACHA, released today shows the danger of Congressional action in advance of a serious analysis of the impact of legislation. Though it was touted as a new and improved version of the bill that failed in March, the CBO analysis shows the bill that passed the House is no better, and in some ways, far worse. The CBO estimates that, at the end of ten years, 23 million fewer Americans will have health insurance because of the legislation, which is one million less than the estimate of their earlier bill.

Most of the lost health insurance created by the AHCA is the result of the slow repeal of the Medicaid expansion and the replacement of the federal entitlement to traditional Medicaid by a per-capita cap on federal funding of the program. These devastating changes to Medicaid will make it impossible for millions of kids and people with disabilities to secure health insurance and will threaten the long-term care of millions of seniors.

The new report also shows that insurance on the individual marketplace in many states, including possibly Pennsylvania, will become unaffordable or unavailable to many people. In states with unstable markets or states that eliminate or modify the essential health benefit or community rating requirements of the ACA, large numbers of people will only be able to purchase health insurance that is inadequate either in that it does not cover pre-existing medical conditions or has yearly or lifetime limits or in that it requires much higher out of pockets costs than people typically pay now.

We come to three conclusions. First, the only real benefit of this legislation goes the 1% and insurance and pharmaceutical industries that will received $600 million in tax breaks. Second, this is a bill that badly undermines health care for millions of Americans and Pennsylvanians and should go no farther. And third, before acting an alternative, the Senate must seek a full CBO analysis so that it too does not pass a bill that harms far more people than it helps.

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