WASHINGTON, D.C.: Fourteen million fewer Americans will have health insurance next year under the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, a non-partisan congressional analysis projected on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), heaping pressure on President Donald Trump to make good on his pledge to broaden coverage.
By 2026, that number would shoot up to 24 million, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said, largely because the bill would undo the Obamacare rule that mandates people have health insurance.
It also said that enacting the legislation currently before Congress — a measure backed by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan — would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over the next decade.
Part of that reduction comes from the plan’s phase-out of the Medicaid expansion by 2020, which would save a massive $880 billion.
Average health coverage premiums would rise 15 to 20 percent in 2018 and 2019 for individual policy holders, it said.
The projection was seen as a black eye on Trump’s repeal-and-replace plan which had already faced substantial opposition from within his own party, especially over fears it would leave millions uninsured.
Trump and his inner circle have insisted the plan will be a vast improvement over Barack Obama’s signature health care reform – which many in the Republican Party say caused insurance costs to spike.
“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said at the White House, arguing that CBO provided an incomplete picture of the plan which includes future steps to deregulate the market and allow people to purchase insurance across state lines.
For Democrats, the CBO report was nothing less than an unmitigated disaster.
“’Trumpcare’ would be a nightmare for the American people,” top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said, as he and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi urged Ryan to scrap the legislation.
But Ryan spun an optimistic vision despite the bleak assessment.
“Our plan is not about forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage. It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford,” Ryan said.