The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 24 million fewer Americans will have health insurance coverage in 2026 under the Republican Obamacare replacement bill, though a Forbes analysis put the number at 5 million.
Democrats and other opponents of the bill seized on the CBO’s estimate, with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer saying it “makes clear that TrumpCare will cause serious harm to millions of American families.”
Even a Republican, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, said of the projection, “It’s awful,” noting that President Trump had said he wanted as many people covered as under the Affordable Care Act.
That won’t happen by a country mile, according to the CBO, which forecast that in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the GOP’s American Health Care Act than under current law, with most of that increase reflecting the elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate.
The number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026, the CBO said, with those reductions in insurance coverage stemming in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment.
Of the 14 million accounted for in the 2018 figure, 6 million would drop out of the individual market, 5 million from Medicaid, and 2 million from employer-based coverage. “If half of the CBO [report] is true, I think we should slow down,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
Forbes questioned the CBO’s numbers, noting among other things that it was “highly unlikely” that 5 million people will only enroll in Medicaid, which is basically free to eligible enrolleees, if the individual mandate forces them to.
According to Forbes, the CBO overstated the overall impact of the AHCA on coverage by 19 million, leaving “only” five million fewer Americans insured in 2026.
The main problem with the AHCA, Forbes said, was that it “insists on using a flat tax credit that provides the same assistance to someone just above the poverty line that it gives to a family making six figures.”
If the GOP simply kept the AHCA’s transitional tax credit schedule, and ditched the flat tax credit, “they’d cover many more people,” Forbes added.