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CBO Says Senate Bill Will Leave 22 Million Without Health Insurance

The Congressional Budget Office just released its score of the Better Health Reconciliation Act, the Senate Republican health care bill. And it is not favorable! CBO determined that the bill will increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, dealing a heavy blow to the act's prospects.

Four Republican Senators--Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin--have said they will oppose the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is attempting to rush the bill to a vote, possibly as early as Thursday this week. Since Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate they can only afford a few defections from their ranks.

CBO analyzed the bill and concluded that it would leave 15 million more people uninsured next year compared to current health care laws. While it would decrease federal deficits by about $321 billion, this is largely due to massive cuts to Medicaid, the federal program that provides health insurance for people who are poor and disabled. The bill will also cause premiums and out-of-pocket expenses to increase for almost all Americans, especially lower-income people and folks nearing retirement. Subsidies for people to buy health insurance will be considerably smaller than under the Affordable Care Act, and deductibles will be higher, making it difficult for low-income people to purchase any plan at all. As a result many of them will go without insurance and therefore be sicker; they will have to rely on charity and emergency care for their health problems, which is inefficient and will increase costs.

Premiums for older people will be especially high. The Congressional Budget Office observed that for a 64 year-old American with an income of $26,500, the net premium in 2026 for a mid-level silver plan will be $1,700 under the ACA. Under this health care bill, it will be $6,500, and insurance will cover much less of the premium costs.

And Medicaid spending will be reduced by $772 billion over the coming decade. By 2026 Medicaid will cover 15 million fewer people than it does today.

The bill is still alive, but this evaluation has harmed its chances of passing. It is yet more evidence that this bill is bad for the American people and for our health. We are organizing to defeat it, and we urge all Americans to contact their Senators and demand that this bill be voted down.

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