CBO: Senate GOP health bill cuts deficit, adds to uninsured

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

The CBO and the JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit by $321 billion from 2017 to 2026. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings from the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was passed by the House in May. The additional savings largely come from steeper reductions to Medicaid than those proposed by the House bill as well as changes to the current subsidies for nongroup health insurance provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Additionally, the Senate bill would result in 22 million additional people being uninsured in 2026. That number is slightly less than the number of uninsured estimated under the AHCA. By 2026, the CBO and the JCT estimate that about 49 million people would be uninsured under the Senate bill, compared to about 28 million who would lack insurance that year under the current law.

The CBO analyzed a revised version of the Senate bill, which was initially introduced on June 22. A new amendment provides that starting in 2019, individuals with a break in continuous insurance coverage for 63 or more days in the prior year will be subject to a six-month waiting period before coverage begins. The House bill imposes penalties (instead of a waiting period) for individuals looking to reenroll after a comparable lapse in coverage.

On June 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a vote on the Senate bill will be delayed until after the July 4th recess.