CBO, JCT Releases AHCA’s Cost Estimate

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The House GOP’S Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) repeal and replacement plan is on track on its path toward the House floor. The House Budget Committee is expected to mark up the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) on March 15.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released a cost estimate of the AHCA on March 13. The “CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period,” the report said. Additionally, the CBO and JCT estimate that the AHCA will increase the number of uninsured individuals by 24 million in 2026, relative to current law.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to criticize Republicans for rushing the bill forward. Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., released a March 13 statement after the CBO report was released, criticizing the AHCA for being rushed through Congress and providing tax cuts to the wealthy. Ways and Means Committee member Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., has also weighed in on the matter, saying, the “House GOP is rushing the AHCA to the floor.”

According to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, however, House Republicans are following regular order. “Bring a bill out, go to markups, allow amendments…this is the legislative process,” Gingrich said while approving the process being used by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Ryan also released a statement after the cost estimate report was released, touting the AHCA for providing “massive tax relief” and reducing the deficit. “This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care,” Ryan said.

Republicans also continue to stress that the bill, only one part of the three-pronged approach to healthcare reform, and its impacts cannot be wholly viewed without taking into consideration the administrative and regulatory approach that will coincide, as well as the subsequent legislation that will be a part of the total healthcare reform process. “It’s important to note that this report does not take into consideration additional steps Congress and the Trump administration are taking that will further lower costs and increase choices,” Ryan said. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., also noted in a statement released on March 13 that the AHCA is just the first part of Republicans’ three-step process to reform.

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

CBO Cost Estimate of the American Health Care Act

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