CBO: 23 million fewer Americans would have health insurance under House GOP bill

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WASHINGTON -- The House Republican health care bill would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under Obamacare, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

The highly anticipated CBO score is likely to trigger another round of negative headlines and more hurdles for Republicans as they look to advance a controversial piece of legislation that was passed in the House earlier this month.

The CBO also found the bill would reduce deficits by $119 billion compared with Obamacare.

Eager to notch a political win in the GOP's yearslong mission to repeal Obamacare, Republican lawmakers took a gamble by voting before the CBO could analyze last-minute changes to the bill.

The new CBO report will serve as an important report card for Senate Republicans as they deliberate over their own version of the health care bill.

The report also shed some light into how the House GOP bill, the American Health Care Act, would change the nation's individual health insurance market.

The legislation would end enhanced funding for Medicaid expansion, while overhauling the entire Medicaid program.

It would eliminate the mandates that require nearly all Americans to have coverage and companies with more than 50 workers to provide health benefits.

And it would jettison Obamacare's taxes on the wealthy, insurers and others, while allowing insurers to charge more to older policyholders.

The agency has already issued two reports on earlier versions of the GOP health care bill, but lawmakers continued to make changes up until the last minute to secure enough votes for passage.

The legislation that ultimately passed would allow states to waive two key Obamacare protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Insurers in these states would be allowed to charge higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions if they let their coverage lapse.

Carriers would also be allowed to offer skimpier plans that would have lower premiums, but not cover as many benefits. But lawmakers also allocated additional money to a stability fund to help states cover high-cost enrollees.

These last-minute amendments would divide the market into three, with each having very different outcomes in terms of coverage and premiums, the CBO found.

About one-sixth of the population lives in states that would opt to make major changes to their insurance regulation, lowering premiums for the young and healthy, but likely leaving many of the sick unable to afford coverage because their rates would continue to escalate.

One-third of Americans live in states that would make "moderate changes" to regulations.

Their average premiums would be lower by 2026 than they would be under Obamacare, but mainly because they would have fewer benefits.

Younger people would see "substantially larger" reductions in premiums, while older enrollees would have "substantially smaller" ones.

The remaining half of the country would live in areas that would retain Obamacare's protections. They would see minimal decreases in premiums, though the amount would vary widely by age.