ObamaCare Will Leave 30 Mil Without Health Insurance: CBO

Investor's Business Daily

The number of people expected to be uninsured under Obama- Care continues to climb, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

In March, the CBO estimated that 27 million people would still be uninsured in 2022. It now finds that 30 million will be uninsured 10 years from now. The latest analysis takes into account the Supreme Court's June ruling that states do not have to expand their Medicaid programs, which provide health care coverage for low-income people.

Thirty million is also the number of people who are now expected to gain coverage under ObamaCare.

"Every time CBO has revisited the law, we find out that a few more million people will not be covered," said Kathryn Nix, policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "This continues the trend that the law is still going to spend over $1 trillion in taxpayer money but is becoming less effective at achieving the goals that its proponents said it would.

But Paul Van de Water, senior fellow at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, disagreed.

"Assessing the effects of a piece of legislation that is this complex, there is going to be uncertainty," he said. "But the court ruling, which impacted one of two major coverage expansions, that of Medicaid, would be expected to affect the coverage numbers.

A review of CBO estimates, however, indicates ObamaCare is sensitive to economic and policy changes. The first CBO analysis after ObamaCare was passed in March 2010 estimated the law's effects through 2019. In that estimate, 23 million people were left uninsured.

In the March 2011 estimate, that number declined slightly to 22 million due to technical tweaks. Slower-than-expected economic growth led the CBO in its March 2012 report to increase the number of uninsured in 2019 to 26 million. The latest estimate now puts the number of uninsured at 29 million in 2019.

ObamaCare sought to force states to expand their Medicaid programs to 138% of the federal poverty level. Another portion of ObamaCare allowed people between 100%-138% of the federal poverty level who could not get into Medicaid to get tax credits to buy insurance in state or federal exchanges. In June, the Supreme Court nixed the forced Medicaid expansion.

The CBO estimates that about 6 million fewer people will qualify for Medicaid as a result of the ruling, lowering the cost of ObamaCare by about $289 billion from 2012-2022. But it also finds the federal government will spend an additional $210 billion for the 3 million more people who will enter the exchanges during that same period. That's a net savings of $79 billion.

When combined with an additional $5 billion in expected tax penalties paid by employers and individuals, the CBO estimates the changes will add $84 billion to the budget savings from ObamaCare.

Of course, the savings come at the cost of 3 million fewer insured.

Another report from the CBO estimated the cost of the bill recently passed by the House that would repeal ObamaCare. It estimated that repeal would cause a net increase in the federal deficit of $109 billion from 2013 to 2022.

CBO estimated that repealing the coverage provisions of ObamaCare would save $1.1 trillion over that time period, but those savings would be offset by an increase in Medicare spending of $711 billion and a drop in revenue of $569 billion.

The report noted that it is difficult to estimate the budgetary impact of numerous provisions of ObamaCare because they are subject to future appropriations by future Congresses. The CBO made some rough guesses about those provisions last year, saying that they could cost up to $100 billion over 10 years.

The House bill repeals many of those provisions. Thus, it is possible that the increase in the budget deficit would be smaller.

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