U.S. Congressman James Comer of Kentucky's 1st District says the new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican healthcare plan shows lower insurance premiums and a reduction of the federal deficit.
Comer calls Obamacare “a disaster” citing rising premiums and companies shrinking “to the brink of collapse.” He has made similar statements at recent town halls across the first district and has often pointed to Anthem as the only provider for much of the first district in west Kentucky.
He says the CBO found that the American Health Care Act will reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion. This is true - over a 10 year period - but it would also leave 23 million more people uninsured.
"CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks."
The largest savings would come from cuts to Medicaid, which serves low-income people and would have a large effect on Kentuckians. Comer has said that too many people are on Medicaid to the point where the government can no longer support it. “If it fails and if nothing’s done then the federal government is going to have to cut Medicaid because the money’s coming from somewhere," he said at a town hall teleconference in Paducah in March.
Comer says the CBO also found the new plan would lower premiums. Some would see lower premiums and savings would be determined in part by state waivers and high-risk pools. Comer has said the pools are well-funded under the AHCA to cover those with pre-existing conditions. The bill calls for $8 billion dollars for state pools on top of another, less-restrictive $100 billion. There is still uncertainty as to how these pools and plans would function.
The CBO says while young or healthy people might prefer plans with fewer benefits and lower premiums, those who are older or unhealthy may face higher out-of-pocket costs and would not find such plans attractive.
"On average, premiums in those states are expected to be roughly 20 percent lower than under current law after 2019. Nevertheless, the agencies expect that insurance for sale in those states would still offer financial protection from most major health risks. Although relatively young and healthy people might prefer plans with fewer benefits and lower premiums, many older people and people who use the services that were no longer covered could face substantial outof-pocket costs and would not find such plans attractive."
Comer has argued that the private sector can create jobs and build competition in the healthcare market. He says many of the details need to be worked out but looks forward to working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the bill goes to the Senate. As NPR has reported, McConnell has expressed doubt as to how to get enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill.
Congressman Comer's Statement:
“Obamacare has been a disaster. Premiums doubled and the number of companies in Obamacare continues to shrink to the brink of collapse. The CBO score shows the American Health Care Act will lower insurance premiums, and reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion. There are still many details that need to be worked out, but I look forward to working with Sen. McConnell as the bill now goes to the Senate.”