Mar 14, 2017

Report: CBO Score Shows Why Congress Should Fully Repeal Obamacare

Post by Geoff Holtzman

Key Takeaways:

  • Fully Repealing Obamacare, Including all of its Costly Insurance Regulations, is the Best Way to Lower Prices and Create New Options for Consumers, Especially Those Most in Need of Affordable Insurance.
  • CBO Determined That Fully, Instantly Repealing Obamacare Would Result in Fewer Uninsured Americans Than the AHCA as it Stands Today.
  • Some Claim That the AHCA Cannot Fully Repeal Obamacare’s Insurance Regulations Due to Budget Rules, Yet the AHCA Makes Changes to Some of These Regulations.

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein explains how yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office report (CBO) makes the case for a full repeal of Obamacare — something the American Health Care Act (AHCA) falls short of by leaving in place many of Obamacare’s costly insurance regulations.

First, Klein notes how CBO determined in 2015 that fully and instantly repealing all of Obamacare, including its insurance regulations, would result in fewer Americans becoming uninsured than the AHCA, even though the AHCA includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new government subsidies meant to entice people to buy insurance (which would still be overpriced due to the subsidies).

“How could that possibly be?” Klein writes. “How could a Republican plan that spends hundreds of billions of dollars offering tax credits to individuals and winds down Obamacare over several years cover no more people than a straight, immediate, full repeal would have? The reason is that the Republican replacement preserves many of Obamacare’s regulations that drive up the cost of insurance.”

Next, Klein questions the claim made by AHCA supporters that the bill cannot touch Obamacare’s insurance regulations due to congressional budget reconciliation rules that require all provisions to have a budgetary impact. In fact, Klein points out that the AHCA actually does address some of Obamacare’s regulations. For example, it changes Obamacare’s so-called age rating provision, which limits how much insurers can charge older customers versus younger ones, from 3:1 to 5:1. It also eliminates the actuarial value regulations creating Obamacare’s metallic tiers of insurance (gold, silver, bronze).

“It’s unclear why Republicans felt comfortable testing the limits of reconciliation in those areas but not with Obamacare’s regulations that impose a clear burden on the federal budget,” Klein writes.

In other words, why is the AHCA able to change some regulations, but not all of them? This is – at minimum – a question that should be put to the Senate parliamentarian for a definitive answer before making the argument that the AHCA is the only path forward. If these regulations have enough of an impact on the budget to justify changes in reconciliation, they should also meet the threshold for wholesale repeal.

Klein concludes by calling on House Republicans to focus “on passing what they promised — legislation that fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with a true free market alternative.”

We agree, which is why we’ve been urging lawmakers to fully repeal Obamacare and take a targeted approach to passing patient-centered solutions that will increase access to quality care at lower prices for all Americans. Click here to read more about our approach.