President Donald Trump has not been having a lot of luck when it comes to making good on his campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Although the American Health Care Act passed in the House of Representatives in the spring, the Senate has been unable to gather the votes to even debate the Republican-drafted health care bill. In response, Trump has been tweeting that if nothing changes, he's going to end all "bailouts" for insurance companies. But, as a new Congressional Budget Office report laid out, here's exactly what could happen to the nation's health care if Trump does repeal Obamacare, or gets rid of the cost sharing reductions (CSRs) to insurance companies.
If Trump does indeed slash CSRs, it's not going to be pretty for a lot of reasons. According to the CBO report, some people would lose all insurance for a few years, others would see their premiums rise, which would, in turn, would raise the federal deficit. Cue a nice, long slow clap for the current administration.
CSRs aren't "bailouts," they are reimbursements to insurance companies for people whose income is between 100 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is decided year to year and depends on how large a family is. The CSRs aren't required by the ACA, so Trump could theoretically cut them off if Congress doesn't do his bidding.
However, government subsidies to help people pay for insurance are required, and the value of the subsidies that the government has to pay out may increase if premiums go up, which they most certainly will, according to the CBO.
The CBO estimates that if Trump stops CSR payments, premiums would go up for everyone by 20 percent next year, and by 25 percent in 2020, since insurance companies would have to cover the costs of the discounts to lower income Americans.
The subsidies are already estimated to cost $10 billion in 2018. If Trump goes through with his threat to get rid of them, the federal deficit go up to $194 billion over ten years.
Although some people would simply have to pay higher premiums if Trump cuts out CSRs, others would be priced out entirely. In fact, 5 percent of Americans would end up living in places where individual plans wouldn't even be sold, according to the report.
The CBO's report estimates that there would be one million more Americans left without health insurance, mainly lower income families and especially women of color, according to the Center for Global Policy Decisions.
The White House issued a statement refuting the CBO's report, saying that the office often makes mistakes or bad predictions. (The CBO overestimated the amount of people that would originally enroll in Obamacare, but overall its math worked out, for better or worse, according to The Washington Post.)
This is the scary part for families: If Trump forces Congress into repealing Obamacare and then rushing to pass a Republican drafted health care bill, around 22 million people would lose insurance. If Trump simply threatens the insurance lobby to pressure legislators to pass a new health care bill by taking away CSR payments, then premiums would go up by 20 percent, some people would lose insurance, and the federal government would actually increase spending — which is a chief complaint made by Republicans.
There has to be a better way to make sure Americans have affordable health care, that isn't based on an administration pushing policy through just to save some face. After all, the fate of the nation's health care is at risk.