CBO says PPACA repeal will increase deficit

By BenefitsPro

By Kathryn Mayer

With House Republicans just a day away from once more voting to try to repeal President Obama’s health reform law, congressional budget analysts suggested Wednesday that repealing the law would increase the deficit.

In a letter to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said the CBO is unable to quickly provide a cost estimate for repeal of the law, per Republicans’ request.

“Preparing a new estimate of the budgetary impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act would take considerable time — probably several weeks — for CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, because there are hundreds of provisions in the ACA and those provisions are already in various stages of implementation,” Elmendorf wrote.

But he did point to an estimate from July 2012 that found that repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would raise the deficit by $109 billion over the next decade.

Last July, the CBO said that eliminating the law’s expensive coverage provisions would be more than offset by repealing its taxes, fees and Medicare cuts, resulting in a deficit increase.

Elmendorf guessed savings from repealing the law’s health care benefits would be “a little higher” than the estimated cost last July, but that the cost of repealing the law's revenue provisions also would be higher.

“The savings over the 2014–2023 period from repealing the insurance coverage provisions would be greater than the $1.2 trillion estimated last year for the 2013–2022 period,” Elmendorf wrote. “But the net costs of repealing the other provisions of the ACA were estimated last year to total about $1.3 trillion for the 2013–2022 period, and with the addition of 2023, they too would probably be greater this year — although CBO does not know the magnitude of the changes.”

House Republicans will vote on Thursday to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, marking the 37th time they’ve voted to fully or partially repeal Obama’s landmark legislation.

Republicans haven’t slowed down their hammering of PPACA: This week they began investigating HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s decision to ask various groups and executives to donate money to nonprofit organizations, such as Enroll America, which are helping to implement the law.

Their newest pushback comes as the law is just months away from hitting important milestones. Open enrollment for the exchanges begins Oct. 1, with coverage starting Jan. 1.

The administration meant for each state to set up its own state exchange, but many Republican governors refused to do so, forcing the federal government to take on that role in more than half the states.

Though the Supreme Court ruling upholding PPACA and Obama’s re-election have practically ensured the law's survival, many Republicans vowed to keep fighting it, arguing Obamacare will do little to actually improve health care and its costs.

This week, the CBO reported an overall decrease in the budget deficit, a decrease that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., partly attributed to PPACA.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com