KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

CBO: GOP Health Bill Would Cut Deficit Somewhat, Do Little To Expand Coverage

"The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that the alternative health care bill proposed by House Republicans would have little impact in extending health benefits to the roughly 30 million uninsured Americans, but would reduce average insurance premium costs for people who have coverage," The New York Times reports. "The Republican bill, which has no chance of passage, would extend insurance coverage to about 3 million people by 2019, and would leave about 52 million people uninsured, the budget office said, meaning the proportion of non-elderly Americans with coverage would remain about the same as now, at roughly 83 percent." A CBO analysis of the Democratic version found that 96 percent of legal residents would be covered. "House Republicans, including their leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have said that they did not intend for their legislation to expand insurance coverage, because they viewed that goal as unaffordable. Instead, they said the bill was tailored narrowly to reduce costs" (Herszenhorn, 11/4).

The Washington Post: "Republicans said their plan was not intended to rapidly expand coverage, but to take a step-by-step approach that begins with lower insurance costs. Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, hailed the CBO's assessment as confirmation that the GOP plan would bring insurance premiums down by as much as 10 percent in the small group market, a significant improvement over the Democratic bill" (Montgomery, 11/4).

Roll Call: "In 2016, the CBO estimates that small group insurance premiums would drop 7 percent to 10 percent compared with current law. Individual insurance prices would drop 5 percent to 8 percent, and in the large group market, the plan would cut prices from zero to 3 percent. However, the CBO said some people could see higher premiums, including, potentially, older and sicker people" (Kucinich and Dennis, 11/4).

Los Angeles Times: "The GOP bill is an amalgam of market-oriented measures that would limit medical malpractice lawsuits, expand the use of tax-sheltered medical savings accounts, let people shop for insurance outside of their own states, and make it easier for small businesses and hard-to-insure people to get coverage. The ideas reflect conservatives' suspicion of sweeping new programs, federal spending and additional regulation. Unlike the Democratic plan, it does not include subsidies or other provisions that would make coverage more affordable to people of modest means." The proposals in the bill have long been on the Republican "wish list, yet they were not enacted even when the party controlled Congress and the White House. And they are being resurrected at a time when some Republicans warn that the party is in danger of being seen as guardians of an unpopular status quo in healthcare" (Hook, 11/5).

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