Brown Statement on CBO Score on Senate Healthcare Plan

Independent Congressional Scorekeeper Predicts Senate Bill Would Increase Premiums by 20 Percent Next Year; Ohioans Will Pay Higher Out-of-Pocket Costs; Bill Hands $26 Billion Tax Cut to Pharmaceutical Companies that Have Contributed to Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today reiterated his concerns with the Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate on the number of people who will be left without health insurance under the bill.

According to the CBO, the Senate bill would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million by 2026. It would also leave 15 million more uninsured next year compared to the Affordable Care Act. It will initially raise premiums by 20 percent next year and result in higher out-of-pocket costs for patients.

The CBO also estimates a $25.7 billion tax cut for the pharmaceutical industry.

“The report only underscores what we already know: this bill hurts working families and raises prices on Ohioans. It hands billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very same drug companies that have price gouged Ohioans and contributed to the opioid epidemic, while taking away Ohio’s number one tool to fight back,” Brown said. “Instead of jamming through a bill written in secret by insurance company CEOs, we should be working together to lower costs and make healthcare work better for everyone.”

Key quotes from the CBO:

  • “Under the Senate bill, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would be about 20 percent higher in 2018 than under current law…”
  • “CBO and JCT expect that this legislation would increase the number of uninsured people substantially. The increase would be disproportionately larger among older people with lower income—particularly people between 50 and 64 years old with income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level…”
  • “Under current law, a 64-year-old can generally be charged premiums that cost up to three times as much as those offered to a 21-year-old. Under this legislation, that allowable difference would shift to five times as much unless a state chose otherwise.”
  • “Insurance covering certain services would become more expensive—in some cases, extremely expensive—in some areas because the scope of the EHBs would be narrowed through waivers affecting close to half the population, CBO and JCT expect.”
  • If premiums go down, it will be because insurance plans don’t cover as much as they do today and out of pocket costs will go up: “That share of services covered by insurance would be smaller because the benchmark plan under this legislation would have an actuarial value of 58 percent beginning in 2020. To design a plan with an actuarial value of 60 percent or less and pay for those high-cost services, insurers must set high deductibles—that is, the amounts that people pay out of pocket for most types of health care services before insurance makes any contribution.” . . .

“Premiums for a plan with an actuarial value of 58 percent are lower than they are for a plan with an actuarial value of 70 percent (the value for the reference plan under current law) largely because the insurance pays for a smaller average share of health care costs.

  • “Moreover, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state. As a result, for some benefits that might be removed from a state’s definition of EHBs but that might not be excluded from insurance coverage altogether, some enrollees could see large increases in out-of-pocket spending because annual or lifetime limits would be allowed.”