The CBO has a 24 year history of misleading the American people on health care policy. The latest example is their most recent assessment of the American Health Care Act which assumes incorrectly (again) that “23 million more people will be uninsured” by 2026 if we repeal and replace the PPACA (Obamacare). They believe this to be true in part because they believe repealing the individual mandate will lead to millions of people not purchasing health insurance because they would no longer face the threat of an IRS penalty for not doing so.
To believe this requires one to ignore evidence, basic math and human nature. For example in 2015, the IRS reported that 6.5 million uninsured filers paid the penalty for not purchasing a “Qualified Health Plan”. 12.7 million more got an exemption from the penalty and an additional 4.2 million were scofflaws and simply ignored it. That equates to 23.4 million people out of an estimated 28.8 million uninsured. That does not prove that the individual mandate compelled these people to purchase health insurance. It simply reinforces what we know about basic math and human nature.
Basic Math and Human Nature
If you understand basic math you understand that the cost of the IRS penalty for not purchasing health insurance (which is 2.5% of your AGI) is still much less expensive than the cost of actually purchasing health insurance. This is especially true since the cost of health insurance in the individual market has increased as high as 105% in some states and more than 200% in others since 2013.
If you understand human nature you understand that when faced with a decision, especially an economic one, people will typically act in their own self-interest. What we predicted in 2009 remains true today. Because the penalty is much smaller than the cost of health insurance, millions will pay the penalty instead, or as recent evidence proves millions more don’t have to and millions more simply refuse to. So, assuming that repealing the individual mandate will lead to “23 million more people being uninsured by 2023” is a false premise. Repealing the individual mandate will do nothing but ensure that those who do not purchase health insurance already will simply no longer be required to pay a penalty to the IRS for continuing to remain uninsured.
AHCA Medicaid reforms make the program more efficient and fair.
In 1965 Medicaid was enacted under President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He signed into law Title XVIII and Title XIX of the Social Security Act. These acts in part provided states with the option of receiving federal funding for providing health care services to low income children, their caretaker relatives, the blind, and individuals with disabilities. Most Americans on both sides of the aisle still believe today that this segment of society should be properly cared for in a system that works fairly and equitably for all recipients. Obamacare massively expanded Medicaid to millions of single, able-bodied adults which not only exploded Medicaid costs (another prediction the CBO got wrong) but in doing so robbed finite resources from those whom the original Medicaid program were designed to help. Namely, those who cannot help themselves. Worse yet, the Obamacare Medicaid expansion population receives a 90% reimbursement rate whilst those who Medicaid was originally designed to help receive only a 50% to 75% reimbursement rate. And this doesn’t even address the billions our Medicaid system pays out to illegal immigrants. How is that fair and equitable? It is not.
This is why the American Health Care Act REFORMS Medicaid by allow states the option to implement intelligent reforms like Indiana and Rhode Island already have and reforms Pennsylvania is trying to implement. The AHCA does not “repeal Medicaid expansion“. It simply ends this unfair reimbursement disparity between those who Medicaid was originally designed to help and those who were added to Medicaid under Obamacare. These reforms are desperately needed since only 20 to 40 cents of each Medicaid dollar actually goes towards patient’s welfare. Surely, we can do better. The American Health Care Act is a good start if we can get the U.S. Senate to pass it. We are rapidly running out of time.