CBO: The GOP's Obamacare repeal could leave 27 million people without health insurance and cause premiums to skyrocket



The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the nonpartisan office within the legislature that provides research on the impact of possible policies, said in a report on Tuesday that the partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, would have huge effects on the US healthcare system.

According to the report, the partial repeal proposed by Republicans would lead to a huge increase in the number of uninsured Americans and skyrocketing premiums for those in the individual insurance market.

SEE ALSO: Trump promises 'insurance for everybody' with his Obamacare replacement

The report expands on an analysis done last year by the CBO that analyzed the effects of a GOP-led repeal of various provisions of the ACA. Currently, Republicans have proposed rolling back the individual mandate, Medicaid expansion, and subsidies for people purchasing insurance in the individual marketplace.

The CBO analysis also accounts for the fact that, as Republicans have promised, the repeal will leave intact provisions such as adult children being able to stay on their parents' insurance through the age of 26 and the inability of insurers to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

Of note, the CBO projections are based on the 2015 ACA repeal bill that was vetoed by President Obama. A new repeal bill is currently being drafted and could have some differences, though the GOP's message on its goals have been roughly the same. Additionally, congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump have promised to quickly create a replacement for the health care law, and these projections do not take the possible effects of such a bill into account.

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Tea Party Patriots supporters hold signs protesting the Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court as the court hears arguments on the health care reform bill on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Affordable Care Act supporters wave signs outside the Supreme Court after the court upheld court's Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A man holds signs during a protest on the second day of oral arguments for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today is the second of three days the high court has set aside to hear six hours of arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Sister Caroline attends a rally with other supporters of religious freedom to praise the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby, contraception coverage requirement case on June 30, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, which operates a chain of arts-and-craft stores, challenged the provision and the high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

An Obamacare supporter counter protests a Tea Party rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the morning hours of March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court continued to hear oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Affordable Care Act supporters hold up signs outside the Supreme Court as they wait for the court's decision on Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ron Kirby holds a sign while marching in protest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A protester waves his bible in the air as he overpowered by cheers from supporters of the Affordable Care Act as they celebrate the opinion for health care outside of the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday June 25, 2015. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Nuns, who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, and other supporters rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case brought by religious groups challenging a process for opting out of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

(Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Supporters of contraception rally before Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Protestors hold placards challenging 'Obamacare' outside of the US Supreme Court on March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court heard a second challenge to US President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The US Supreme Court faces a momentous case Wednesday on the sweeping health insurance reform law that President Barack Obama wants to leave as part of his legacy. The question before the court is whether the seven million people or more who subscribed via the government's website can obtain tax subsidies that make the coverage affordable. A ruling is expected in June.

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 Linda Door (L) protests against President Obama's health care plan in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate after the Supreme Court up held the law in the 6-3 vote at the Supreme Court in Washington June 25, 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, handing a major victory to the president.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

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In terms of coverage, the CBO projects that the increase in the number of uninsured under a partial repeal would be dramatic.

"The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill," said the report. "Later, after the elimination of the ACA's expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces, that number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026."

Republicans have said that they do not want to end up with fewer people on health insurance and Republican lawmakers have said they do not want to "pull the rug out" from the more than 20 million people who have gained access to insurance through the ACA.

In addition to the effects on insurance coverage from a repeal, the CBO report estimates that premiums would increase 20-25% more than they would if the ACA were kept in place over the next year. If a full repeal occurs, this would hit 50% over current projections of premium increases under the ACA. One of the main Republican complaints about Obamacare is the increase in premiums for 2017.

From the report:

"The majority of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Doing so would both reduce the number of people purchasing health insurance and change the mix of people with insurance—tending to cause smaller reductions in coverage among older and less healthy people with high health care costs and larger reductions among younger and healthier people with low health care costs. Thus, average health care costs among the people retaining coverage would be higher, and insurers would have to raise premiums in the non-group market to cover those higher costs."

The CBO also projects that a partial repeal while keeping the popular provisions of the ACA would lead insurers to ditch the individual marketplace at a rapid pace.

"After weighing the evidence from prior state-level reforms and input from experts and market participants, CBO and JCT estimate that about half of the nation's population lives in areas that would have no insurer participating in the non-group market in the first year after the repeal of the marketplace subsidies took effect, and that share would continue to increase, extending to about three-quarters of the population by 2026," said the report.

Essentially, this would create what Republicans themselves have called the "death spiral." With no incentive from the individual mandate for younger and healthier Americans to stay in the insurance marketplace, the pool of people covered would become dominated by sicker people that need the coverage.

The increasing cost of covering these people would cause more and more insurers to ditch the individual market, leaving fewer choices and even higher prices.

So far enrollment in the individual marketplaces has increased every year since the law took effect and recently set a new enrollment record, so while the individual market has faced problems, health officials pushed back on the idea of a "death spiral" in terms of coverage.

While the concerns raised by the CBO may be addressed by a replacement plan through block subsidies and other proposals, the possibility of a repeal without a plan to replace would be a disaster for the individual marketplace based on the CBO report.

Politicans of either saide of the aisle were quick to jump on the report. Democratic lawmakers used the report as a sign that repeal is dangerous, while the GOP was quick to dismiss the findings.

Paul Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong responded to the report in a statement, saying "This projection is meaningless, as it takes into account no measures to replace the law nor actions that the incoming administration will take to revitalize the individual market that has been decimated by Obamacare."

Additionally, House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise tweeted that the CBO report "assumes no Obamacare replacement" and that the replacement will actually "provide people with coverage that they want and can actually use."

On the other hand, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that the report showed the dangers of repeal.

"CBO report says premiums will skyrocket under GOP's plan," tweeted Schumer. "Why are they raising costs & taking us from #CaretoChaos? #MakeAmericaSickAgain."

Additionally, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon tweeted that the report showed that the GOP's repeal "means higher health care costs & less coverage"

Read the full CBO report here»

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