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CBO: Repealing Obamacare would actually Increase the Deficit

by Chad Peace, published

The Congressional Budget Office just released two reports, one on the estimated cost of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as "Obamacare", and one on the estimated cost of repealing the ACA.  While neither report represents a comprehensive new estimate, it may be a surprise to many that the CBO estimates that repealing Obamacare would actually cost the government over $100 billion over the next 10 years:

Assuming that H.R. 6079 is enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2013, CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting that legislation would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period. Specifically, we estimate that H.R. 6079 would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period.

As for the ACA itself, the CBO has also estimated that in light of the recent Supreme Court decision, the ACA is likely to reduce the budget deficit because of the reduction in Medicaid costs.  The CBO highlights four main points that contribute to this cost savings:

  • Only a portion of the people who will not be eligible for Medicaid as a result of the Court’s decision will be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges. According to CBO and JCT’s estimates, roughly two-thirds of the people previously estimated to become eligible for Medicaid as a result of the ACA will have income too low to qualify for exchange subsidies, and roughly one-third will have income high enough to be eligible for exchange subsidies. In addition, those who become eligible for subsidies will have to pay a portion of the exchange premium themselves, which will affect their decisions about whether to enroll in the exchanges.
  • For the average person who does not enroll in Medicaid as a result of the Court’s decision and becomes uninsured, federal spending will decline by roughly an estimated $6,000 in 2022.
  • For the average person who does not enroll in Medicaid as a result of the Court’s decision and enrolls in an exchange instead, estimated federal spending will rise by roughly $3,000 in 2022—the difference between estimated additional exchange subsidies of about $9,000 and estimated Medicaid savings of roughly $6,000.
  • With about 6 million fewer people being covered by Medicaid but only about 3 million more people receiving subsidies through the exchanges and about 3 million more people being uninsured, and because the average savings for each person who becomes uninsured are greater than the average additional costs for each person who receives exchange subsidies, the projected decrease in total federal spending on Medicaid is larger than the anticipated increase in total exchange subsidies.

The entire CBO report can be found here.  What's your take?

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