KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CBO Shrinks Estimate Of Health Law Spending Based On Lower Subsidy Costs

Expanding health coverage under the health law will also slow premium growth, helping lower the total cost of the law, the nonpartisan office said.

The New York Times: Budget Office Lowers Estimate For The Cost Of Expanding Health Coverage
The insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act will cost $1.383 trillion over the next decade, more than $100 billion less than previous forecasts, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday. The nonpartisan budget office's report, an update to projections from February, shows the law costing less than in previous estimates in part because of the broad and persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs. The news might come as welcome to Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House who are struggling to defend the law in an election year (Lowrey, 4/14).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Cost Forecast Is Reduced 7% By U.S. Fiscal Watchdog
Lower-than-expected health insurance premiums under Obamacare will help cut the long-term cost of the program 7 percent over the next decade, according to the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office. The government's reduction of $104 billion in subsidies for those premiums was the main factor that led the nonpartisan fiscal watchdog to cut its projection of the nation's federal deficit by nearly $300 billion through 2024 (Memoli, 4/14).

The Wall Street Journal: CBO Estimates U.S. Deficit Will Shrink More Than Expected In 2014
CBO also reduced the government's projected 10-year deficit by $286 billion, to $7.6 trillion, mainly because of lower subsidies related to the health-care law. Future Medicare spending was also revised lower. The estimates come during a brief period of rapidly shrinking budget deficits, forcing both political parties to rethink their approaches to taxes and spending heading into the November midterm elections. The White House and Republican lawmakers have battled over the deficit for years, primarily through protracted debates over how much revenue to collect and how to structure government programs (Paletta, 4/14).

USA Today: CBO Lowers Estimate Of Health Care Law Costs
Net costs in 2014 are due almost entirely to subsidies paid out to those who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level who enrolled in the health insurance exchanges, as well as the Medicaid expansion in some states. The government will pay out $1.84 trillion through 2024 for health exchanges and subsidies, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and tax credits for small employers. But the budget office expects $456 billion in penalty payments from those who do not have health insurance as well as excise taxes on high-premium insurance plans, income taxes for those who make more than $200,000 a year, and payroll taxes that come from changes in employer coverage (Kennedy, 4/14).

McClatchy: CBO Sees Lower Costs For Affordable Care Act Insurance Provisions
The Affordable Care Act’s insurance coverage provisions will be less costly to the federal budget than first projected and premiums for a key health plan are expected to rise by about 6 percent a year, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday. Updating estimates issued in February, the non-partisan CBO said the cost to the federal government for the insurance provisions is $5 billion less than thought earlier this year. From 2015 through 2024, the provisions should prove $104 billion less costly. That's 7 percent below earlier projections (Hall, 4/14).

The Fiscal Times: CBO Says Obamacare Will Cost Less Than Projected
The White House is kicking off the week with some more good news for Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office said on Monday that the federal government will spend significantly less than expected on health insurance benefits under the new law. The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation said the law’s insurance coverage provisions will now cost about $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years -- about $104 billion less than previously estimated. This year alone the government will spend $5 billion less than projected. The CBO said lower spending on the health care law is helping shrink deficits overall (Ehley, 4/14).

Politico: Smaller Premium Hikes Forecast In 2014 For Obamacare
Coverage through the law will cost the federal government about $5 billion less than expected this year. And overall, the law’s 10-year cost for the coverage provisions is pegged at $1.383 trillion -- $104 billion less than prior calculations. Both figures are lower than prior estimates mostly because the CBO and JCT anticipate premium subsidies being smaller (Haberkorn and Norman, 4/14).

Other highlights from the report include that the deficit will shrink as a result of the lower health care costs and that 6 million will be the average number getting coverage in health law marketplaces --

The Associated Press: CBO: Deficits To Drift Lower On Lower Health Costs
A Congressional Budget Office report Monday said this year's deficit will now be $492 billion, $23 billion less than previously estimated. Last year’s deficit registered $680 billion, the first year in President Barack Obama’s tenure that the deficit was less than $1 trillion (4/14). 

CBS News: Report: Average Of 6 Million In Obamacare Marketplaces In 2014
Over the course of 2014, an average of 6 million Americans will have health insurance through the new Obamacare marketplaces, according to the latest estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). All told, the CBO said that 12 million more nonelderly people will have health insurance in 2014 than would have had it in the absence of the Affordable Care Act. That includes the 6 million in private Obamacare plans, 7 million more enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the subtraction of 1 million losing coverage on the nongroup market (Condon, 4/14).

But a survey also says premiums are going up --

Fox News: Survey Shows Obamacare Sending Premiums Rising At Fastest Clip In Decades
A recent survey of 148 insurance brokers shows that Obamacare is sending premiums rising at the fastest clip in decades. "For the last, about, five years they've been doing this survey, so this was the largest percentage increase in any quarter since they've been doing (it)," said Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute. "But at 12 percent, 11 percent increase on average across all the states -- that puts it at the upper end of any increase we've seen for decades." That is the national average in a survey done by Morgan Stanley. … The reported hikes are for the first policies issued under Obamacare in 2014 (Angle, 4/14).

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