Changes to ACA Repeal to Slice Deficit Reduction in Half: Group

After touting the Affordable Care Act repeal bill’s projected deficit reduction, Republicans may have less to crow about in the bill’s revised form, at least according to one bipartisan deficit hawk group.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in a blog post Tuesday the proposed changes to the ACA repeal bill would likely cut its deficit reduction in half in the first 10 years and by a larger proportion in the second ten years.

Speaker Ryan introduces the American Health Care Act

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had estimated the ACA repeal bill would cut the deficit by about $337 billion over 10 years, and the CRFB had previously estimated the savings over 20 years at about $2 trillion.

“In terms of coverage impact, it does not appear that these amendments by themselves would change the original bill's coverage impact much (at least without more details on the tax credit changes), but it seems likely that coverage would be further reduced due to the Medicaid changes,” the CRFB said.

The group said the proposed change to the Medicaid caps, by tying their inflation adjustments to a price index tied to medical inflation instead of overall inflation, would mean the caps save less money than previously thought. Similarly, repealing some taxes that paid for the Affordable Care Act a year earlier also cut down on the deficit reduction in the bill, the group said.

“With these changes included, we roughly estimate that the amended version will reduce deficits by between $150 billion and $200 billion, as opposed to the $337 billion in the original bill,” the group said.

“As we have noted previously, the relatively modest amount of deficit reduction in AHCA compared to the savings from ACA repeal and Medicaid reforms in previous balanced budget resolutions will make it harder for Congress to balance the budget,” the group said. “The changes in the manager's amendment make that task even harder.”

The CBO has not said yet what impact the proposed changes would have on the bill. A House Republican aide told Bloomberg BNA Tuesday that the CBO was not expected to release its update score until Wednesday night, prior to a planned Thursday floor vote.