Repealing the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care law, could cost 18 million Americans their health insurance in the first year, a study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows.
A repeal of the law, the report shows, could increase the number of uninsured individuals to 32 million over the next decade, and insurance premiums would double over that time, The New York Times reports.
The release of the report comes after a weekend of protests against the repealing of the health care law.
Republicans say the report only paints a picture of what would happen if the health care law is repealed with no replacement. The numbers, they say, reveal a one-sided scenario.
“Today’s report shows only part of the equation – a repeal of Obamacare without any transitional policies or reforms to address costs and empower patients, said Orrin G. Hatch, Senate Finance Committee chairman. Hatch says Republicans are in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act, and implementing new reforms that provide Americans with access to “affordable health care.”
Thus far, Republicans have yet to present a replacement for Obamacare. Any existing plans, like the one drafted by Rep. Tom Price, have yet to be reviewed by the budget office.
The bill reviewed by the budget office would eliminate tax penalties for Americans who do not have health insurance. It would also remove spending on subsidies that lower the cost of health insurance for low-income Americans and on Medicaid expansion.
Some portions of Obamacare would be preserved, such as requiring insurers to provide coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.
The budget office said removing the subsidies and penalties while maintaining market reforms would “destabilize the nongroup market.” The effects of destabilization, they say, would only worsen over time.
The estimated 32 million people without insurance would be the result of three changes, the budget office said: 19 million people would lose Medicaid coverage, 23 million people would lose coverage from the individual market, and an increase in the number of people with employer-based coverage would help offset the losses.
These estimates are in line with those presented by insurance companies and the Obama administration.
According to the report, the cost of insurance premiums would increase by 20-25%. Rising costs would be partly due to the removal of the mandate penalty that requires Americans to have insurance. Eliminating penalties would make younger individuals more likely to go without insurance.
The elimination of subsidies and Medicaid expansion would be phased in over two years. According to the budget office’s report, the number of uninsured Americans would jump to 27 million immediately if Republicans chose not to phase in the changes.
The budget office argues that without subsidies, fewer Americans would enroll in health plans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the report.
“The projection is meaningless, as it takes into account no measures to replace the law nor actions that the incoming administration will take to revitalize the individual market that has been decimated by Obamacare,” Ryan said.