Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released
its highly anticipated score of the Senate plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, projecting losses in insurance coverage over the next decade. According to the report, the GOP bill would leave fifteen million people uninsured in the next year, twenty-two million by 2026, and would substantially increase premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for low-income Americans and those nearing retirement.
The CBO analysis dealt a blow to Republicans' multiyear effort to repeal President Obama's signature health care law. Their score leaves Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to get a vote before the July 4 recess looking increasingly unlikely. McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes, but at least three senators have already said they won't support it. Moreover, a growing number of Republican senators have indicated they will vote against even debating the bill. Just this morning, McConnell reportedly
delivered a sobering warning to his colleagues: pass the bill as is or negotiate with Democrats.
McConnell is a savvy politician, so it's hard to say how he'll ultimately manage to wrangle this into a win. But one thing is clear: the Republican plan could spell out big losses for Tar Heels. According to a recent analysis
by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, the Senate proposal would leave some 1.3 million North Carolinians without insurance coverage by 2026, with nearly half of those losses coming from Medicaid, the state- and federally funded health insurance program for millions of low-income Americans. North Carolina, it's worth noting, was one of nineteen states that declined to take part in the ACA's Medicaid expansion program, leaving a half-million residents in the cold.
In March, the INDY explored
how the House's health care proposal would affect Triangle residents. We highlighted the stories of a handful of North Carolinians who gained coverage under Obama's landmark law, including Durham's Walt Von Schernfeld, who is sixty-two, makes less than $20,000 a year, and went without health insurance for two decades before gaining coverage under Obamacare. We asked him what an ACA repeal would mean for him:
"I am afraid that I will no longer be able to afford health care insurance. If I did not have a subsidy through the ACA, my health care insurance would be almost eleven hundred dollars a month. How can I afford eleven hundred dollars a month when, at twenty thousand dollars [a year], I still have to scrounge to pay my bills at the end of every month? Listen to the people who need health insurance. It should not be a privilege for the wealthy."