The latest iteration of the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would increase the number of people without health coverage by 22 million and cut the deficit by $321 billion through 2026, according to estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.
The nonpartisan budget and tax analysis agency's estimates forecast the effects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the healthcare bill crafted by Senate Republicans and released last week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he wants to bring the bill to a vote before the July 4 recess, though he has met enough opposition from within his own party so that it is not clear the legislation would pass.
The CBO's current figures are a shift from those previously released on the House bill passed in May. The CBO estimated the number of uninsured people under that bill would increase by 23 million by 2026 compared to under current law, and the deficit would be reduced by $119 billion.
The BCRA would seek to end Obamacare's Medicaid expansion starting in 2021 and limit government spending on the rest of the Medicaid program. It provides smaller subsidies for less generous health plans and higher deductibles, repeals the individual mandate that requires all Americans have health coverage or pay a fine and allows states to opt out of Obamacare marketplaces and essential health benefit requirements.
Senate Republicans on Monday released a revised version of the bill to include a provision that would encourage people to buy insurance: a six-month "lock out" period where people who don't have insurance have to wait six months before their policy takes effect. The CBO estimated repealing the mandate would result in 15 million more uninsured people in 2018, and it is not clear whether or how the Monday's revisions would change the estimate.
The CBO numbers are critical because GOP lawmakers are trying to pass healthcare reform under rules for budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority in the Senate and are not susceptible to filibusters in the Senate. Republicans have a slim 52-48 majority.
Republican Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) have voiced opposition to the Senate bill. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have expressed concerns about the legislation as well, including over measures in it that would defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
Former President Barack Obama blasted the Senate healthcare bill last week, in a Facebook post describing it as a "massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America."
President Donald Trump tweeted about the BCRA ahead of the CBO score on Monday.
The Democrats have become nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS, they have no policies or ideas. All they do is delay and complain.They own ObamaCare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017
Republican Senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats. Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017