CBO: Repealing Health Law Would Increase Deficit By $230 Billion Over 10 Years

Moments ago, the Congressional Budget Office released its cost estimate for the GOP’s health care repeal bill — H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, introduced yesterday in the House by the new Republican majority:

– 32 million Americans will lose coverage compared to current law: “Under H.R. 2, about 32 million fewer nonelderly people would have health insurance in 2019, leaving a total of about 54 million nonelderly people uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, compared with a projected share of 94 percent under current law (and 83 percent currently).” (p. 8-9)

– Increases deficit by $230 billion over 10 years: “Consequently, over the 2012–2021 period, the effect of H.R. 2 on federal deficits as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues is likely to be an increase in the vicinity of $230 billion, plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes to CBO’s and JCT’s projections for that period.” (p. 5)

– Huge deficit increases over next decade: “Correspondingly, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2 would increase federal deficits in the decade after 2019 by an amount that is in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP, plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes that CBO and JCT will include in the forthcoming estimate. For the decade beginning after 2021, the effect of H.R. 2 on federal deficits as a share of the economy would probably be somewhat larger.” (p. 7)

– Individuals would pay more for health insurance: “Although premiums in the individual market would be lower, on average, under H.R. 2 than under current law, many people would end up paying more for health insurance— because under current law, the majority of enrollees purchasing coverage in that market would receive subsidies via the insurance exchanges, and H.R. 2 would eliminate those subsidies.” (p. 9-10)

– Average health care benefits would be worse: “In particular, if H.R. 2 was enacted… the average insurance policy in this market would cover a smaller share of enrollees’ costs for health care and a slightly narrower range of benefits.” (p.9)

– Premiums for employer-sponsored insurance would increase: “Premiums for employment-based coverage obtained through large employers would be slightly higher under H.R. 2 than under current law, reflecting the net impact of many relatively small changes.” (p. 10)

The GOP is excluding the vote from its new cut-go rule — under which increases in mandatory spending would have to be paid for but tax cuts would not — and dismissing the CBO’s estimates of savings in the health law by claiming that the initial savings from reform are largely imaginary. But this now places the new majority at odds with the ‘gods’ at the CBO — who they’ve routinely cited to bolster their own proposals — and its repeated pledges to lower spending in the new Congress.


Steve Benen reminds us:

In June 2009, the Congressional Budget Office scored an incomplete Democratic health care proposal, issuing an unhelpful analysis with little practical value. At the time, Eric Cantor (R-Va.) not only accepted the CBO numbers as gospel, but called the analysis “the turning point in the healthcare debate.” (Dems crafted a more complete bill, and soon received a better score.)

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,Republicans come back with their expected response — Democrats fooled the CBO into thinking health care reform saved money:

I just asked Boehner spokesman Michael Steel for a statement on the CBO letter. “There is no one that believes the Washington Democrats’ job-killing healthcare law will lower costs, because it won’t,” Steel responded. “That’s why we pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that will actually work.

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