Obamacare Repeal Could Leave 18 Million Americans in Limbo

Empty Emergency Room

According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, as many as 18 million Americans could lose health insurance if Republicans go ahead with their plan to partially repeal Obamacare. The move could leave the 18 million in limbo by the end of the year, and 24 million more by 2032, the report found.

The CBO based the assessment on the GOP’s 2015 plan to partially dismantle the health care law. Two years ago, President Obama vetoed the plan. Yet now, with a Republican in the Oval Office, there is no obstacle to it.

Premiums Could Jump 50%

The agency also estimates premiums would skyrocket by 20-25 percent if Republicans don’t devise a replacement plan. What’s more, health insurance premiums could rise by as much as 50 percent if the Medicaid expansion is no longer.

Democrats, who called for the review, used the figures to oppose the GOP’s plan. On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the numbers clearly show an Obamacare repeal would turn into a nightmare for the American people.

House Speaker Paul Ryan fire back. He said the CBO based the report on a partial-repeal plan which lacked a replacement. A spokesperson for Ryan’s office dismissed the findings as “meaningless”. The GOP has a clear plan to revive the “private market that has been decimated by Obamacare,” the source also said.

Republicans plan to repeal the health care law but they want to offset the move’s ripple effects though a set of administrative rules. The Republican party, however, is divided on the replacement.

The timeline is unclear too. Vice President–elect Mike Pence said the party would repeal the law within the administration’s first 100 days. Other Republicans said a decisive vote would occur in February.

President-elect Donald Trump, though, said the plan is ready and a repeal vote would happen as soon as Congress confirms his nomination for health and human services secretary, Tom Price.

Last Friday, congressional Republicans gave the green light to a budget measure that will shield repeal efforts from a filibuster.

Trump said last week his party had a plan to give coverage to “everyone”. Congressional Republicans added the coverage will be universal, but they don’t grant universal access to it.

Sicker Patients the Worst Hit

Supporters of the law say that with Obamacare gone, sick people will suffer the most. Before the law, health insurers lowered their risks by focusing on healthy patients and charging sicker people more or simply denying access. Obamacare barred insurers from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.

As a result, they shared the burden of their medical treatments with healthy patients. In return, premiums skyrocketed for some categories of patients, which is a major reason the GOP wants to undo the law. In addition, the law makes use of federal funds to offset insurers risky bets. Insurers keep providing insurance to some categories of patients in hopes of federal funding.

In the meantime, exchanges became riskier as fewer younger and healthier Americans agreed to sign up. As a result, the remaining enrollees are more riskier and sicker than estimated. And with a Congress less willing to pour funds in the system experts expect fewer insurers to provide coverage.
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