Benefits

CBO’s Take on Revised ACA Repeal/Replace Bill: More of the Same

The saga of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican plan to repeal and replace key portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has been a long and winding one so far.

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To recap: The original version of the AHCA was introduced in early March. After receiving lukewarm support and a discouraging report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which concluded that it would leave an additional 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026 as compared with the current ACA, it was pulled from the House floor shortly before a scheduled vote on March 24.

Republican lawmakers regrouped, and on May 4, a modified version of the AHCA squeaked through the House by the slimmest of margins. The vote took place before the CBO had had a chance to review the new version of the bill.

Yesterday afternoon, the CBO released its new report. The conclusion? From a cost and coverage perspective, AHCA 2.0 does not represent a marked improvement over the original version.

The modified version of the AHCA, says the CBO, would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law—again, that estimate was 24 million under the original version of the AHCA.

In terms of dollars and cents, the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting the new version of the AHCA would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $119 billion—which is $32 billion less than the estimated net savings for the previous version of the AHCA.

On the bright side, reports the CBO, “the number of people with health insurance would, by CBO and JCT’s estimates, be slightly higher and average premiums for insurance purchased individually—that is, nongroup insurance—would be lower, in part because the insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs.

“In addition, the agencies expect that some people would use the tax credits authorized by the act to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks and that are not counted as insurance in this cost estimate.”

Click here for a discussion of what the modified version of the AHCA could mean for employers.

JenJennifer Carsen, JD,is a Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications, focusing on benefits compliance. In the past, she served as the managing editor of California Employer Resources (CER), BLR’s California-specific division, overseeing the content of CER’s print and online publications and coordinating live events and webinars for both BLR and CER.

Before joining CER in 2005, Ms. Carsen was a Legal Editor at CCH, Inc. and practiced in the Labor & Employment Department at Sidley & Austin, LLP in Chicago. She received her law degree from the New York University School of Law and her B.A. from Williams College. She is a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Questions? Comments? Contact Jen at jcarsen@blr.com for more information on this topic