CBO Report: Republican Health Bill Would Cut 14 Million People from Medicaid

Washington, D.C.—Today, the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its updated “score” of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), as passed by the House earlier this month. CBO estimates that 23 million people would lose health coverage by 2026 if the AHCA is enacted, including 14 million who would lose coverage from Medicaid. The AHCA reverses the progress made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by increasing the uninsured rate, making coverage less comprehensive and more expensive, and ending Medicaid as we know it. At the same time, the bill would cut taxes by $664 billion over 10 years, with most of the benefit going to the wealthy.

The CBO analysis makes clear that the AHCA would fundamentally undermine Medicaid by replacing the federal-state partnership with per capita caps or block grants. Medicaid has provided affordable health care to low-income children, parents, young adults, seniors and individuals with disabilities since 1965. Medicaid is a critical support for helping people find and keep a job. It is also the largest source of financial support for opioid treatment and other key mental health and substance abuse services. The AHCA would cause 4 million people to lose Medicaid coverage next year, rising to a staggering 14 million people by 2026.  The program’s funding would be cut by $834 billion over the next 10 years, threatening the wellbeing of millions of children, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on the program.

The CBO score was released the day after President Trump released his budget proposal for FY 2018 which calls for further reductions in Medicaid on top of the cuts in the AHCA.  As Budget Director Mick Mulvaney explained, the Administration proposal would “ratchet down some of the growth rates” assumed under the ACHA in order to reach arbitrary spending targets. This proposal would put even more strain on state budgets—and result in more people uninsured—than under the House-passed AHCA, and should serve as a warning of what is likely to happen once Congress has broken the relationship between actual medical costs and federal Medicaid funding.

The razor-thin passage of the AHCA earlier this month in the House occurred just hours after the updated bill text was released, with no hearings, no analysis of the implications for the employer-provided health insurance market, and no CBO score of the number of people who would be left without health coverage. Today’s report confirms what we already knew: that Republicans are trying to push a health bill that would be disastrous for millions of Americans.

Congress must immediately halt any further consideration of the AHCA. CLASP calls on the Senate to reject any other legislation that would harm Medicaid or leave millions of people across the country with worse—or no—coverage. This bill cannot be improved or repaired. Instead, Congress should be working together to build on the ACA’s historic progress rather than jeopardizing the health care of millions of Americans.