Two weeks ago, the House Republicans voted for the 31st time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Today, the Congressional Budget Office released yet another reminder to the GOP that such a move would add even more unpaid-for spending to the nation’s deficit:
Assuming that [repeal] is enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2013, CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting that legislation would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period. Specifically, we estimate that H.R. 6079 would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period.
In other words, cutting the health care reform’s new spending — the subsidies for Americans shopping on the exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, tax credits for small employers, etc. — will indeed yield budget savings. But those savings will be washed out by additional spending created by repealing the reform’s cuts Medicare spending, and by the revenue lost when policies like new taxes on high-income earners and the excise tax on high-value insurance plans are undone. The Republicans’ repeal bill would also strip health insurance coverage from 30 million non-elderly Americans who will receive it under the Affordable Care Act.
While estimates beyond the 2013-2022 period are highly uncertain, CBO also anticipates a repeal would continue adding to the deficit beyond 2022. Given their initial estimates anticipated the health care reform law would reduce deficit spending by something in the neighborhood of $1 trillion over its second decade, this makes sense.