The Trump administration and other supporters of the Senate GOP's health care bill have been arguing that, contrary to the concerns of lawmakers and advocacy groups about the legislation's deep cuts to Medicaid, the Obamacare repeal bill wouldn't actually take a hacksaw to the program, which covers about 74.5 million poor and disabled Americans. A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released Friday afternoon could put that claim under serious scrutiny.
The latest CBO report goes beyond the original analysis that the nonpartisan budget and policy scorekeeper put forth last week. That document forecasted that enrollment in the Medicaid safety net program for the poor "would fall by about 16 percent and an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured [by 2026], compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law." Overall, CBO predicted that 22 million fewer people would have health coverage in 2026 relative to Obamacare is the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) were enacted.
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Thursday's new analysis goes a step further and tries to game out what would happen to Medicaid even further down the line under the Senate's health bill. And CBO reaches a pretty striking conclusion. "Overall, including all provisions affecting Medicaid, CBO estimates that spending for the program would be reduced by $160 billion in 2026 compared with projections under current law," the agency wrote.
That's a staggering 35% reduction in Medicaid funding compared with what would be appropriated under Obamacare, which gave states the option to significantly expand their Medicaid programs. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership and the largest health insurance program in the country.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump attempted to answer the concerns of wary, moderate GOP Senators who don't want to see Medicaid slashed (including several who represent states where Obamacare's Medicaid expansion has significantly cut the uninsurance rate) with a chart purportedly showing that Medicaid funding would actually increase under the Senate bill. However, as several commentators pointed out, the graph was misleading since it didn't actually compare funding levels to what they would be under Obamacare, which is still the law of the land.