CBO report: The GOP's planned repeal of Obamacare would devastate Americans


The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released a report detailing the effects of the Republicans' efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The results are truly devastating.

Repealing Obamacare is a worse idea than anyone could have imagined, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office. The depth and severity of the results will be difficult to convey in headlines and soundbites. To cut through some of the likely confusion, here is a brief breakdown of what the report says.

The report finds that the Republicans' ostensible concern over high premium increases will be exacerbated under repeal, but pay close attention to just how badly (emphasis mine):

In total, as a result of reduced enrollment, higher average health care costs among remaining enrollees, and lower participation by insurers, CBO and JCT project that premiums in the nongroup market would be about 50 percent higher in the first year after the marketplace subsidies were eliminated—relative to projections under current law—and would about double by 2026.

What the summary does not make all that clear, and the headlines likely will not either, is that those increases are not based on current premiums — they are based on what the premium increases would have been under Obamacare.

For example, a plan that cost $3,800 in 2014 was projected to cost $6,900 ten years later under Obamacare. Under repeal, that plan would cost nearly $14,000 after ten years. Put simply, repealing the Affordable Care Act will cause premiums to almost double over what they would have been under Obamacare, not over where they are now.

The report also says that repeal would increase the number of uninsured people by 18 million almost immediately, which would rise to 27 million after the eliminations of subsidies and Medicaid expansion took effect, and then to 32 million in 2026. Meanwhile, the competition that Republicans have promised will actually diminish under repeal (emphasis mine):

[I]n the first new plan year, premiums in the nongroup market would rise and participation by insurers in that market would decline. Starting in the year following the elimination of the expansion of Medicaid eligibility and the marketplace subsidies, the increase in the number of uninsured people and premiums would be greater, and participation by insurers in the nongroup market would decline further.

To underscore the total failure of repeal, and keeping in mind that only 3 percent of Americans are affected by premium increases at all, the reports adds that "roughly 10 percent of the population would be living in an area that had no insurer participating in the nongroup market" under repeal.

All of this is in addition to the protections that would be removed from Americans who receive insurance through their employers, such as the preexisting conditions clause and prohibitions on lifetime caps.

Democratic leaders in Congress are charging full steam ahead with this report. In an emailed statement, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer echoed the sentiment that the CBO report is worse than even the staunchest ACA supporter could have imagined:

Nonpartisan statistics don’t lie: it’s crystal clear that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will increase health care costs for millions of Americans and kick millions more off of their health insurance. The numbers are even worse than experts could have imagined: tens of millions will lose their health insurance, and individuals will see their premiums double. This is exactly why Republican members of Congress are getting an earful back home from constituents who want them to turn back from their dangerous plan to make America sick again.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement that took aim at the difference between what President-elect Trump is promising, and what Republicans are actually doing:

The CBO’s nonpartisan report shows that Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care will be nothing less than a nightmare for the American people. If Republicans succeed in repealing the ACA, health care costs will explode, Americans in the individual market will see their premiums double by 2026, and the number of uninsured Americans will surge by 18 million in the first year alone and by 32 million by 2026.

Republicans need to wake up to the brutal impact that repealing the ACA will have on the lives of their constituents. Behind each of these statistics are stories of millions of Americans whose lives hang in the balance. Republicans will have to decide whether they are really willing to hurt tens of millions of Americans, just to satisfy their blind ideological obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act.

While President-elect Trump promises ‘insurance for everybody,’ Republicans are moving to destroy the health coverage of tens of millions of Americans and drive up costs for millions more. The GOP plan isn’t repeal and delay, or repeal and replace – it’s cut and run. Republicans cannot hide from the reality of their Make America Sick Again agenda.

These leaders are right: Nonpartisan facts and figures do not lie. The same cannot be said of our president-elect, or of Republican leaders in Congress.

The corporate media has a terrible record of abetting Republican lies about health care, but with so much at stake for so many millions of Americans, that kind of failure is more unacceptable than ever. Repealing Obamacare will hurt people, and Americans deserve to know just how badly.