CBO: Senate Health Bill Leaves 22M More Uninsured

By Robert Lowes
WebMD Health News

A Senate bill that largely repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would add 22 million more Americans to the ranks of the uninsured by 2026 compared to current law, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

That's just a million less than what the CBO forecast for a similar bill passed by the House in May. The Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), also would reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next 10 years. That's $202 billion more than what the House bill would save, the CBO said in a report released Monday.

Republican leaders in the Senate had hoped to hold a vote on the bill before their Fourth of July recess. However, winning over at least 50 GOP supporters need to pass it could be a challenge. Some moderate Senate Republicans have expressed discomfort with the prospect of tens of millions of people losing insurance coverage. And the bill has failed to win the support of the some conservative Senate Republicans, who say it doesn't go far enough in dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate bill has been criticized by major medical societies for reducing healthcare coverage, particularly in the Medicaid program. One of the most strongly worded criticisms from organized medicine came from the American Medical Association (AMA). In a letter to the Senate, AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James Madara, MD, said the bill in many ways violates the physician's imperative of "first, do no harm".

"We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect," Madara wrote.


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