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Budget analysts say GOP bill would do little to expand health insurance coverage

By Lori Montgomery
The long-awaited Republican entry in the health care debate received its assessment late Wednesday from congressional budget analysts, who concluded that the proposal would barely dent the ranks of the uninsured.

The measure would cover only 3 million additional people at a cost of $60 billion through 2019, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. It would leave more than 52 million Americans uninsured a decade from now.

"The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share," CBO director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

The costs of coverage would be more than offset by other provisions, reducing projected budget deficits by $68 billion by 2019.

Boehner plans to offer the proposal as an alternative to the Democratic package when the House debates health reform as soon as this weekend. The measure, unveiled last week after mounting taunts from Democrats, seeks to expand coverage primarily by lowering the cost of insurance through regulatory reforms, state grants, federal funding for state-based high-risk pools and an expansion of tax-exempt health savings accounts.

By way of comparison, the bill crafted by House Democratic leaders would spend $1.055 trillion to expand coverage to 36 million additional Americans, leaving 96 percent of nonelderly legal adults with coverage by 2019, according to the CBO. The Democratic bill would also do slightly more to reduce future deficits, by $104 billion over the next decade.

Republicans said their plan was not intended to rapidly expand coverage, but to take a step-by-step approach that begins with lower insurance costs. Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, hailed the CBO's assessment as confirmation that the GOP plan would bring insurance premiums down by as much as 10 percent in the small group market, a significant improvement over the Democratic bill.

"This bill will significantly reduce health care premiums and insure millions of Americans without raising taxes or spending $1 trillion, which is what the Democrats do," Camp said in a statement.

Democrats focused on the anemic coverage forecast, and noted that the GOP measure neglects popular insurance reforms, such as banning denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

"Tonight CBO confirmed that the Republicans' only solution for health reform is to preserve the status quo," Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement.

By Lori Montgomery  |  November 4, 2009; 10:44 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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As one would expect, most Republicans in Congress do not seem to care about the more than forty million people in this country who lack health care coverage. They seem indifferent to those individuals who are denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Truly the party of Scrooge, concerned more about the rich than those less fortunate.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | November 4, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to the GOP! The Republicans's plan is NOT intended to rapidly expand coverage, but to lower insurance costs and REALLY improve and expand health care without rationing and destroying health care, and destroying the economy.

Obamacare, on the other hand, is a fairy tale, a SCAM that will destroy our health care, our economy, our freedom, and our country.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | November 5, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Funny, I can't remember (or imagine) the Post taking so skeptical a line about the tax-and-spend disaster that is the Pelosi/Reid bill. So borrowing a trillion dollars in money we don't have to commit ourselves more deeply to a system we can't afford can't possibly be criticized -- and if PwC makes this criticism, well, it was actually a lobby pulling the strings -- but we can trash a more reasonable first stab at actual reform by the Republicans?

The hypocrisy and lack of objectivity blow my mind.

Posted by: itchy1 | November 5, 2009 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Because of their undying support for big business over the welfare of the American people, the GOP have presented a worthless, unworkable, irresponsible version of Health Care Reform.
What will it take to make people realize they are not concerned or care about the surival of us or our country? When you have a political party that promotes nothing but dstruction, puts party and winning at any cost over our countries growth and survival, incites hate, anger, fear mongering while thumping the Bible
is not the caliber of politicians we want or need runing our country.

Posted by: kathlenec | November 5, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

But how many pages is the bill??? That's the most important question ever!!!

Posted by: sacomment | November 5, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Whhhhheeewwww! Sure it doesn't really cover anyone not covered now, and, okay, so we will probably still have over 3,000 Americans a month dying due to not having health care, (but-hey, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, am I right?), but at least we don't have to cover pre-existing conditions under this bill, Sincerely, the Health Insurance Lobby.

Posted by: whereareweandwhatarewedoinginthishandbasket | November 5, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Health Savings Accounts are not available everywhere. I looked up GoldenRule HSA, and when I tried to select my state, New York, it wasn't there. Then I went on put in my zip code, and there were no qualified HSA compatible health plans available. Try it yourself:

Does this Republican bill make HSAs available to every state? What good is it if certain states like NY are so highly regulated that insurers don't want to do busness there (and those who do charge outrageously high premiums in the individual market).

Posted by: TheNervousCat | November 5, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the GOP bill isn't up to par. Sounds like the Pelosi bill is worse. Kill the bill(s) and study this thing and take it up again in a year or so. Do it in baby steps and stop trying to control people's lives.

Posted by: 45upnorth | November 5, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the GOP's plan is intended to cover every "American". It is intended to reduce the cost of healthcare. What most people care most about is reducing their own health care premiums and not giving subsidized insurance to the uninsured (most of whom are illegals or those who choose not to pay for it when in fact they could). We want a plan that is going to reduce healthcare costs and not raise taxes. We do not want a healthcare plan that redistributes healthcare privileges from the haves to the have-nots.

Posted by: Martin175 | November 5, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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