WASHINGTON — The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is likely to say this week that the
The CBO previously ignited a firestorm when it predicted that the House’s version of health care reform would result in
Health care experts from across the political spectrum told Yahoo News they believe that the Senate version of the bill would result in slightly less catastrophic coverage numbers, but they still expect the CBO to predict widespread coverage loss.
“I’d expect coverage to be 18-20 million fewer than [under Obamacare],” said Avik Roy, a conservative health care policy analyst who supports the Senate bill. Roy added that he “strongly” disagrees with that projection, and that he would score the legislation differently than the CBO.
Gary Claxton, the director of the health care marketplace program at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, said he believed the CBO would predict “15 or more million” would lose coverage.
The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank,
Such predictions are likely to spook undecided key Senate moderates such as Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who have said the CBO’s uninsured numbers will be important in how they decide whether to support the bill or not. A pro-Obamacare group already ran attack ads targeting both senators and other moderates
Last week, Collins called the CBO analysis “all important” and said she cannot support a bill that causes tens of millions of Americans to lose coverage.
“I want to wait to see the CBO analysis, but I have very serious concerns about the bill,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.,
Still, if the CBO shows a modest decrease in the uninsured rate compared to the House bill, it’s possible Senate Republican leaders will argue that the legislation is moving in a positive direction to convince wavering members. They could also quibble with how the CBO scored it, discrediting the nonpartisan analysis. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in
The Senate plan’s tax credits are more generous than the House bill’s, which means the CBO will likely show fewer Americans will lose coverage under it. Both plans’ subsidies are less generous than current law. The Senate bill’s tax credits are tied to the cost of insurance plans that are sold on the marketplace, so premium cost increases can’t outpace them.
But the Senate bill, like the House bill, repeals the individual mandate that requires Americans to have insurance coverage or pay a tax — a move that the CBO has in the past predicted would have a big impact on insured rates.
“The big change will be repealing the individual mandate, which the CBO, and the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] actuary, think will make a big difference in increasing the uninsured,” said Timothy Jost, a health care expert and emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law.
Some Democrats are arguing that the CBO score will underestimate how many people would lose coverage long-term due to changes in Medicaid that won’t take effect until 2025. That’s the year when the Senate bill proposes tying the increase in Medicaid funding to inflation instead of the rise in overall medical costs. The
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., wrote a letter to the CBO Friday asking that the analysts score the bill on a 20-year timeline instead of a 10-year timeline, to reveal those cuts.
“I know we’re going to get a horrific CBO score next week,” MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who helped design Obamacare,
Roy disputed that characterization, saying he does not believe the Senate’s Medicaid reform will result in fewer people having health insurance.
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