Aside from the fact that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republican tax plan will not provide the middle-class tax cuts the President and other Grand Old Partiers are using as a primary selling point, its potential impact on health care is far more concerning.
As of right now, the GOP tax bill includes a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate. While the individual mandate, which requires people without health insurance to pay a fine to the federal government, is the least popular aspect of the ACA, it’s a vital component of the legislation. It’s a support beam, removing it could collapse the entire system.
According to the latest CBO report, repealing the individual mandate would result in 4 million fewer people with health insurance by 2019, and 13 million fewer by 2025.
13 million is not a blip, it is more than half of the total coverage gains made since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010—most estimates have ACA insurance gains at around 20 million. According to a Gallup poll completed in quarter 1 of 2017, an estimated 11.3% of adults in America do not have health insurance, a massive improvement over the 18% of the third quarter of 2013.
If the current version of the tax bill passes, the 10-11% numbers we’ve been experiencing since 2015 will slide back up to the teens within a few years. And it’s worth noting that while the CBO projections on Obamacare weren’t perfect, they were pretty close in the coverage realm. If we factor in the 19 states that failed to expand Medicaid, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities did in the analysis shown below, we see that their coverage prediction was only off by 1.1%.
The Republicans have tried to delegitimize the CBO since their first Obamacare (ACA) repeal effort was derailed by a truly horrific report, but the CBO’s reputation is rather solid. As Jeremy Singer-Vine pointed out in Slate, a study completed in Polity found the CBO predictions to be more accurate than those made by the White House and the Federal Reserve.
So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t trust this report, and the report states that 13 million fewer people will have health care coverage by 2025. This would be a catastrophic blow to our already fledgling health care system.
Written by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.