Despite Changes Made by the Senate, Millions Are Still at Risk of Healthcare Coverage Loss
The U.S. Senate has officially turned in its amendments to the healthcare reform bill passed by the House, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has come to roughly the same conclusion it did when it scored the earlier version: In a few years, millions will be stripped of their healthcare coverage.
Initially, 23 million Americans were going to lose health coverage within the next 10 years if the bill that was passed by the House were made into law. After much deliberation by the Senate, where Republicans took over, not needing Democrat votes and therefore largely shutting them out of the amendment process, the bill came out looking quite similar in terms of health coverage outcomes.
The CBO scored the bill and, after all that time talking, estimated that the Senate bill would only lower the number of Americans losing healthcare from 23 million to roughly 22 million.
This was enough to turn a few Republican senators against the bill, making its passing far from a sure thing and forcing a retraction of the bill to undergo potentially more changes.
The bill would lower premiums, however, according to the CBO.
“In 2020, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would be about 30 percent lower than under current law. A combination of factors would lead to that decrease — most important, the smaller share of benefits paid for by the benchmark plans and federal funds provided to directly reduce premiums,” the organization wrote.
But the question is what the bill will have to look like for it to be passable by the more moderate Republicans. Earlier in the year, many town halls turned raucous as constituents would openly call out their representatives in both Houses for not doing more to protect their coverage, which would be lost should the Affordable Care Act be replaced.
At the moment, there are not enough Senate votes to push the bill through, but if the Republicans can work the number down to a size that appeals to moderates, then the bill will almost certainly pass into law. The question is how many millions of Americans losing coverage is acceptable.
“CBO Score of Senate Health Bill Is Grim — But Gives McConnell Wiggle Room,” New York Magazine, June 26, 2017.