On Monday night this week, in the wake of news that there might not be enough votes to pass the updated Senate version of the AHCA, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced a plan to vote for legislation that would repeal most of Obamacare without immediately putting an alternative in place. The alternative plan would instead be developed over the course of the next two years.
Will a repeal plan fare better than a Repeal and Replace Plan?
As of today, though, this is predicted not to pass. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) have all said publicly that they would not back this approach, while Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated on July 19th that he does not believe there are even 40 votes in favor of a repeal-only plan.
An analysis of this kind of repeal-only approach by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) earlier this year concludes that the number of people uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first year of the bill’s enactment. That number would increase to 32 million by 2026. Also, the CBO predicted that Americans buying insurance in the nongroup market would see premiums increased by 20-25 percent in the first year, up to 50 percent in the year following elimination of Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies. Premiums for these individual policies would about double by 2026.
What will happen next?
In response to backlash, McConnell said on Wednesday that a motion to begin debate on the Senate’s repeal and replace bill--as opposed to the repeal-only option--will occur next week. This version of the AHCA has been revised since its first draft was released and scored by the CBO (and since we last covered it on our blog), most notably adding an amendment from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) which would allow insurers to opt out of ACA regulations if they sold ACA-compliant plans as well.
The CBO this Thursday released a score for an updated version of the bill. The CBO predicts that the number of people uninsured would increase by 19 million in 2020 and 22 million in 2026, relative to the number under current law. Under this version of the bill, 18 percent of Americans under 65 would be uninsured by 2026, as opposed to 10 percent under current law. This new score does not take the Cruz amendment into account; the score including that change could instead take weeks to be calculated.