The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

That CBO Score for the American Health Care Act

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


All of Washington finally got what it had been waiting for since the beginning of May:  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score for H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017, by a vote of 217 to 213.  As you will recall, ACHA is designed to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Now the bill will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

While the press and AHCA’s opponents are focused on CBO’s May 24, 2017 report that “23 million fewer Americans will be insured,” here is the bottom line to remember from the CBO report: The ACHA will lower insurance premiums and reduce the deficit by $119 billion over ten years.  That's good for Americans who purchase health insurance and the country as a whole.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is collapsing and never lived up to its expectations.  Its supporters refuse to acknowledge these facts.  For example, a chart produced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) demonstrates that in 2014, the CBO predicted that 25 million people would be covered by Obamacare in 2017.  The actual coverage is 12.2 million, a miscalculation of 100 percent!  Health insurers are leaving the state exchanges in droves, with one-third of all counties in the U.S. having either one or no insurer available to their citizens.

Insurers are leaving the ACA marketplaces because more and more people are refusing to purchase Obamacare. The law's numerous taxes and mandates have driven up insurance costs.  Premiums have skyrocketed to a yearly average of $5,712 instead of being lowered to an average of $2,500 per family, per year as promised by President Obama.  A May 23, 2017, report by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in HHS shows the average premium per month for an individual in 2013 was $232; it is now $476 per month in 2017 or a 105 percent increase.

The new CBO score also assumed that a total of 12 million people (4 million from Medicaid and 8 million in the individual market) will become uninsured in 2018 simply because the individual mandate tax has been eliminated.  This is nonsense.  Medicaid is essentially a free program to beneficiaries and 83 percent of people that purchase insurance via an Obamacare exchange have and will continue to receive subsidies to help with their premium costs.

Let’s be clear, as CAGW laid out in its May 2017 Waste Watcher, the AHCA has a lot of policy initiatives that would help lower premiums, provide more choice on the type of insurance people want to buy, and reforms Medicaid, a program rife with waste, fraud, and abuse, in an effort to put it on a budget for the first time and return it to its original purpose of helping the truly poor and the sick get access to healthcare.

There is a lot more work to be done with AHCA and the Senate is now engaged to put its mark on the legislation.  Stay informed and stay tuned.

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