Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
USA | By Cassandra Hanson

Budget office to gauge health bill effect on coverage, cost

Budget office to gauge health bill effect on coverage, cost

A financial analysis of the American Health Care Act, slated to be released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office, could decide the fate of the bill in its current form - and if it continues on to the Senate or returns to the House to be reworked.

The version of the AHCA that was passed by the House of Representatives this month does not yet have a CBO score - that comes on Wednesday. That bill, with the bathroom amendment, passed the House, but the Senate rejected it for not discriminating against all trans people.

A reconciliation bill - the fast-track budget maneuver the GOP is using to avoid a Democratic filibuster - only needs 51 votes to pass.

The House initially had planned to take up tax issues first.

Trump and Republicans celebrated the House's narrow May 4 passage of the bill in a Rose Garden ceremony after several embarrassing setbacks, even as GOP senators signaled it had little chance of becoming law without significant changes. The CBO is known and respected for its robust and impartial analysis, which is why its score for proposed legislation is typically so eagerly anticipated. Many Republicans have said their top goal is lowering premiums.

The Republican-led House on May 4 narrowly approved its own legislation to overhaul the USA healthcare system and dismantle major parts of the Obamacare law that was Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.

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The nonpartisan office also says that compared with Obama's 2010 overhaul, average premiums for people buying individual policies would be lower. Susan Collins of ME and even talking to some Democrats about their ideas, is one of those people criticizing how this secret process is happening.

Besides premiums, other critical components of the value of health insurance are out-of-pocket costs and benefits.

By one account, the GOP's health care working group did receive some information yesterday from actuaries, but the discussion was held behind closed doors, and only the 13 Republican members of the working group were allowed to participate in the discussion. Citing markets where insurers have left or sought huge premium increases, Republicans have repeatedly said the statute must be dismantled because it is in a death spiral.

"We can expect today's CBO analysis will likely show numerous same grave consequences", he said.

The report could give talking points to House Republicans for their bill, or to Democrats who voted unanimously against it.

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