Millions could lose medical insurance if new Bill passes

Mr Trump with a drawing done by a child of one of the attendees of a meeting on healthcare in the White House on Monday. The CBO report on the Republican plan to dismantle Obamacare has dealt a potential setback to Mr Trump's first major legislative
Mr Trump with a drawing done by a child of one of the attendees of a meeting on healthcare in the White House on Monday. The CBO report on the Republican plan to dismantle Obamacare has dealt a potential setback to Mr Trump's first major legislative initiative.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON • Fourteen million Americans could lose medical insurance by next year under a Republican plan to dismantle Obamacare that would also reduce the budget deficit, according to the non-partisan US Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Its report, which also dealt a potential setback to President Donald Trump's first major legislative initiative, forecast that 24 million more people would be uninsured in 2026 if the plan being considered in the House of Representatives were adopted. Obamacare, as then President Barack Obama's signature piece of domestic policy is commonly called, expanded insurance to about 20 million Americans.

Hours after the CBO report was released, the House Budget Committee postponed its consideration of the Republican Bill until tomorrow.

Prior to the report, Republicans had been planning to vote soon on the Bill in the House, where it is likely to pass, and send it to the Senate, where its outlook is uncertain.

The CBO projected that 52 million people would be uninsured by 2026 if the Bill became law, compared with 28 million who would not have coverage that year if the law remained unchanged.

Two House of Representatives committees have approved the legislation to dismantle Obamacare that was unveiled by Republican leaders a week ago, but it faces opposition from Democrats and also medical providers and many conservatives.

Now, the CBO report's findings could make the Republican plan a harder sell for lawmakers.

The CBO, however, said federal deficits would fall by US$337 billion (S$477 billion) between this year and 2026 under the Republican Bill.

Some health policy experts and Wall Street analysts said the report was more draconian than expected, with the uninsured rate declining more quickly than foreseen.

The AARP, a non-profit advocacy group for ageing Americans, said on Monday that the CBO analysis showed that the financial burden of the Republican plan would fall "disproportionately" on Americans aged 50 to 64.

Some Republicans worry a misfire on the Republican healthcare legislation could hobble Mr Trump's presidency and set the stage for losses for the party in the 2018 congressional elections.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Millions could lose medical insurance if new Bill passes'. Print Edition | Subscribe