In the second round of bad news for the revised GOP health care bill, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday that the faltering legislation would still leave 14 million people without health insurance next year and 24 million without coverage in 2026 – the same as the original bill.
While the legislation wouldn’t reduce the federal deficit as much as the original bill – $150 billion over the next ten years compared with $337 billion – the identical coverage estimates are yet another blow to GOP leaders whose hopes for the bill’s House passage fizzled Thursday amid stubborn opposition from House conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus.
Tom Perez, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the vote postponement a win for the American people.
“We took action and raised our voices, and it worked,” Perez said in a statement. “This is only one step in the fight to do what is best for our country. Trump’s broken promise to protect health care was a lie and would instead put it out of reach for 24 million Americans.”
House Republicans revised the troubled proposal earlier this week with a slew of changes designed to garner more support from both factions of their fractured caucus – moderate Republicans who questioned the bill’s coverage losses on the poor and elderly and conservatives who said the legislation retained too much of Affordable Care Act which it was meant to replace.
The amended bill provided more assistance for older Americans with higher health costs by allowing people to deduct from their taxes medical expenses exceeding 5.8 percent of their income. The current threshold is 10 percent.
And in a nod to conservatives, the amended bill also allowed states to require Medicaid enrollees to fulfill a work requirement in order to receive coverage.
When those and other proposed changes failed to boost support, GOP leaders doubled down, offering to scrap the Affordable Care Act mandate that individual insurance policies cover ten essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, pediatric care and mental health and substance abuse treatment.
But the conservative Freedom Caucus rejected that offer as well, leaving President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan no choice but to cancel Thursday’s scheduled vote on the measure and begin retooling the proposal anew.
“No member of Congress should vote for this bill – or any bill – that repeals health care and raises costs and cuts coverage,” said a statement from Leslie Dach, campaign director for Protect Our Care.
The revamped legislation would increase average premiums for individual coverage prior to 2020 and lower those costs afterward, the CBO found.
Average premiums for individuals would increase 15 to 20 percent in 2018 and 2019, the CBO estimates. By 2026, those premiums would be about ten percent lower than they would under the Affordable Care Act.