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CBO - facts are pesky things
Leaked CBO Numbers: 73% of GOP ‘Coverage Losses’ Caused By Individual Mandate Repeal
Based on CBO estimates, three-fourths of the difference in health insurance coverage between Obamacare and GOP proposals can be explained by Republicans' repeal of the individual mandate.
by AVIK ROY
July 23, 2017 7:03 AM
In the national debate over the GOP health reform proposals, one data point has stood out above all others: the estimate, from the Congressional Budget Office, that more than 20 million people would “lose” coverage as a result. And there’s been an odd consistency to the CBO’s projections. Do you want to repeal every word of Obamacare and replace it with nothing? CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance.
Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with a system of flat tax credits, in which you get the same amount of assistance regardless of your financial need? CBO says 23 million fewer people would have health insurance. Do you prefer replacing Obamacare with means-tested tax credits, like the Senate bill does, in which the majority of the assistance is directed to those near or below the poverty line? CBO says 22 million fewer people would have health insurance.
22 million, 23 million, 22 million—these numbers are remarkably similar even though the three policies I describe above are significantly different. Why is that?
Thanks to information that was leaked to me by a congressional staffer, we now have the answer.
Nearly three-fourths of the difference in coverage between Obamacare and the various GOP plans derives from a single feature of the Republican bills: their repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate.
But the CBO has never published a year-by-year breakout of the impact of the individual mandate on its coverage estimates. But CBO has developed its own estimates of that impact, during work it did last December to estimate the effects of repealing the individual mandate as a standalone measure. Based on those estimates, of the 22 million fewer people who will have health insurance in 2026 under the Senate bill, 16 million will voluntarily drop out of the market because they will no longer face a financial penalty for doing so: 73 percent of the total.