Republican health plan would save billions, but 24 million more people wouldn't have insurance

The Trump administration doesn't agree with the Congressional Budget Office's report.
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House Republicans' plan to redo the Affordable Care Act would save billions of dollars, but it would also mean millions more Americans losing coverage.

That's according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's report released Monday, which estimates the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the next decade thanks to reduced spending on Medicaid and government aid for people who buy health insurance on their own.

But, the report found, 14 million more Americans wouldn't have health insurance next year alone. And that number would grow. The budget office estimates 52 million people wouldn't have insurance in 2026, while under current law the number of uninsured Americans is projected to be 28 million in 2026.

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, about 1.2 million low-income Minnesotans would lose coverage or have reduced coverage under the American Health Care Act.

The report also found that in 2018 and 2019, people buying their own insurance would see premiums 15-20 percent higher than what they'd be under the Affordable Care Act. But after that, premiums would go down – they'd be 10 percent lower on average than the Affordable Care Act after 2026.

You can read the entire 37-page report here.

Reactions to the report

Democrats, many hospital groups and even some Republicans had already come out against the bill, and Monday's report gave them even more reason to. Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Al Franken released a statement saying the American Health Care Act "would hurt Minnesotans and people across the country."

Franken says not only would the Republicans' plan increase the uninsured rate, but it would also "drive up costs for seniors, put rural hospitals and nursing facilities at-risk of closure, limit access to providers, and jeopardize tens of thousands of health care jobs in Minnesota. It would also end Medicaid as we know it. All of this is unacceptable. They should abandon this harmful effort and help us improve the ACA.”

Gov. Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, released a statement on the plan Tuesday, urging Congress to reject the act, saying "Changes are needed, at both the state and federal level, to make health care more affordable and accessible to Minnesotans, not less."

The New York Times says the report's findings will make it more difficult for Republicans to prove why the American Health Care Act will make the health care system better, and the Washington Post notes it "undermines" President Donald Trump's promise that no one would lose coverage under the Republicans plan.

But the Trump administration quickly refuted the Congressional Budget Office's report. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said "we disagree strenuously with the report that was put out," noting the report didn't consider regulatory changes and grants the Trump administration says will expand coverage, according to CNN.

So should we believe the Congressional Budget Office's report? FiveThirtyEight looked into it and found that the office's track record for predicting how things would shake out under the Affordable Care Act.

The report notes there's some uncertainty about its estimates for the American Health Care Act, but it's pretty confident it got the big picture right – spending under Medicaid will go down; the cost of new tax credits would likely be lower; and the number of people without insurance "would almost surely be greater than under current law," FiveThirtyEight says.

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