In more federal health news, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of the impact of the House’s American Health Care Act yesterday. CBO predicts that 23 million more Americans would lose health coverage in the next decade, 14 million just next year, if the AHCA becomes law. The law would reduce the federal deficit, largely by cutting $834 billion from Medicaid over the next ten years. CBO also predicts that insurance markets would become very unstable for about one in six Americans who live in states that elect the AHCA option to remove community rating and Essential Health Benefit standards now required by the Affordable Care Act. Young, healthy residents of those states would benefit with lower premiums but residents with higher-than-average health costs would see a large increase in premiums if they could even find coverage. According to the CBO, benefits that would likely be cut in those states include maternity, mental health and substance abuse, rehabilitation and habilitation, and pediatric dental care. Residents of those states that need the services removed from Essential Health Benefit standards would face very large increases in out-of-pocket costs or would have to forgo care. Plans in those states may re-institute annual and/or lifetime caps on coverage which would also significantly raise costs for residents with high-cost health needs such as expensive prescriptions, according to the CBO. The AHCA has not been taken up by the Senate; leaders there have stated they intend to start over with a new health reform bill.
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