The wait is almost over. On May 24 the Congressional Budget Office plans to release its cost estimate of the controversial American Health Care Act. The bill—which passed the House 217-213, just one vote over the majority threshold this month—would essentially end Medicaid expansion and undo protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
It's unclear what impact the CBO's estimate will have on the health reform debate since GOP Senate leaders are drafting their own version of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The AHCA seeks to eliminate the individual mandate requiring health insurance coverage. Instead, it would allow insurers to charge a 30% late-enrollment surcharge to any applicant who went longer than 63 days without continuous health insurance coverage during the previous 12 months.
The bill also converts Medicaid into a per capita capped system and would not allow expansion-eligible people who left Medicaid, even for just over a month, to return to the program. Starting in 2020, states would have to pay for their full share of covering the expansion population. For some states, that would be a shift from 90% funding to 50% funding.
Funding for nondisabled children could decrease by $43 billion over 10 years if the bill becomes law, according to research released May 18 by the consulting firm Avalere Health.
"Over time, per capita caps could significantly reduce the amount of funding that goes toward Medicaid coverage for children," Avalere President Dan Mendelson said.
The CBO estimated that earlier versions of the House bill would cause 24 million people to lose health coverage by 2026, while reducing the federal deficit by $337 billion.