Friday, March 17, 2017
Billy Long: 24 million will lose health insurance, but they get to choose to lose health insurance
Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report on the budgetary and coverage impacts of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The potential ramifications studied by the CBO include how many individuals may lose coverage under the new system, how insurance premiums may be impacted nationwide, and the effects of the legislation on taxes and the deficit.
Though there has been a lot of “noise” surrounding the release of this report, it’s important to not only understand what is in the report, but also the purpose of the CBO, its history and how it reaches its conclusions.
The CBO was first established in 1974 and began operating on February 24, 1975, when the first director, Alice Rivlin, was appointed. The CBO’s primary objective is to provide budgetary analysis, in a nonpartisan fashion, for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The CBO not only supports the House and the Senate by analyzing budgetary legislation, it also aims to provide the general public with a better understanding of the financial impacts of major legislation under consideration by Congress.
Even though the CBO is a vital resource in understanding the financial impacts of bills, it’s important to approach each analysis with caution. In 2013, the CBO estimated that Obamacare would cover 24 million people by 2016. Last year, just a little over 10 million Americans were covered by the exchange. A number much lower than what the CBO predicted.
In the recently-released CBO report on the effects of AHCA, they estimate that over the next 10 years roughly 24 million individuals would lose their health coverage. However, it is important to note the difference between “losing insurance” and choosing not to purchase it. By eliminating the individual mandate to purchase health coverage, the AHCA is putting choice back in the hands of the consumer.
Along with lifting the burden of the individual mandate, the CBO found that the Republican health care bill will lower premiums by 10 percent, reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion and make the first meaningful entitlement reforms in decades, saving taxpayers $880 billion. At the same time, the proposed health care bill will increase health insurance choices for individuals, who currently under the Obamacare exchanges have the option of one possible plan in 84% of Missouri counties.
Increasing choices and lowering premiums were top priorities for Republicans when drafting the AHCA. Certain aspects of the CBO report’s findings are encouraging, but there is still more work to be done. The AHCA is the first step in reforming our health care system and untangling the mess that Obamacare has made. I look forward to continuing to work on this bill with my colleagues and getting the best possible deal for the American people.