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CBO Says McConnell Healthcare Bill Would Slash Deficits By $420 Billion, Leave 15 Million Uninsured

Another day, another CBO score for another version of the GOP's healthcare bill. This time, the agency estimates that McConnell's "Better Care Reconciliation Act" legislation would lower the federal budget deficit by $420 billion over the next 10 years by reducing spending for Medicaid and subsidies for nongroup health insurance.

As The CBO notes, those effects would be partially offset by the effects of provisions not directly related to health insurance coverage (mainly reductions in taxes), the repeal of penalties on employers that do not offer insurance and on people who do not purchase insurance, and spending to reduce premiums and for other purposes.

Compared with the June 26 cost estimate for a previous version of the legislation, this cost estimate shows savings over the next 10 years that are larger - as well as estimated effects on health insurance coverage and on premiums for health insurance that are similar. The current version of the legislation would result in greater deficit reduction mostly because it would retain certain taxes that the previous version of the legislation would have eliminated. The description of the legislation and of CBO and JCT’s methodology and results that appeared in the agencies’ previous estimate largely applies to this one as well.

Effects on the Federal Budget

CBO and JCT estimate that enacting this legislation would reduce federal deficits by $420 billion over the 2017–2026 period (see figure below). That reduction is the net result of a $903 billion decrease in direct spending partly offset by a $483 billion decrease in revenues.

However, the other side of the coin is that, according to CBO and JCT’s estimates, in 2018, 15 million more people would be uninsured under this legislation than under current law.

The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 22 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 82 percent of all U.S. residents under age 65 would be insured, compared with 90 percent under current law.

Full Scoring below: