Though it was effectively declared dead on arrival earlier this week, the latest Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act is still technically on life support, with President Trump pushing for lawmakers to continue working on the measure. However, the Congressional Budget Office has once again confirmed that simply repealing Obamacare without a replacement would result in a huge number of additional Americans losing or going without health insurance, and significantly higher costs for those who remained on their policies.
The latest CBO estimate [PDF] looks at the more straightforward repeal plan suggested following the legislative collapse on Monday night of the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
As with other repeal plans, the elimination of requirements for individuals to have health insurance and for larger employers to provide qualifying coverage will immediately result in a large number of people losing or dropping their insurance policies. Within the first year of repeal, says the CBO, 17 million addition people would be without coverage. By 2020, that would swell to 27 million, and then 32 million by 2026.
Additionally, without people being required to have insurance, there would be little to no financial incentive for some coverage providers to offer individual policies. After a decade of repeal, the CBO expects that 75% of the U.S. population would live in areas without any insurers offering policies through the individual marketplace.
Without any plan to keep premiums affordable, the CBO predicts that the rates for individual plans would increase by 25% after the first year of repeal. By 2026, premiums will be double what they are now, according to the report.
After at least four GOP senators publicly stated their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act, Republicans no longer had the necessary 50 votes they would need to pass the bill on to the House. Rather than continue to revise that legislation or work with Democrats to revise the existing law, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for the party to move forward with a simple repeal bill — effectively identical to one that was approved by the House and Senate but vetoed by President Obama in early 2016.
While that bill — originally introduced in the House by current Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — only received one “no” vote from Senate Republicans at the time, lawmakers knew they didn’t have to seriously consider the ramifications of passing the bill. There was no way President Obama would sign it, and Congress lacked the votes to override a White House veto.
Almost immediately after McConnell expressed his desire to bring the repeal resolution to the Senate floor, three senators — Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) — announced they would vote no. With a slim majority of 52 in the Senate, the GOP can only afford to lose two senators, so the straightforward repeal bill was considered a non-starter.
Earlier today, President Trump invited GOP senators to lunch and pushed for lawmakers to remain in town as long as is required to pass some health care bill.
“People should not leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we give our people great health care,” said the president. “We have to hammer this out and get it done.”