Congressional Budget Office
In preparing the March 2012 baseline budget projections, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have updated estimates of the budgetary effects of the health insurance coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
CBO and JCT now estimate that the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of just under $1.1 trillion over the 2012–2021 period — about $50 billion less than the agencies’ March 2011 estimate for that 10-year period.
CBO and JCT’s projections of health insurance coverage have also changed since last March. Fewer people are now expected to obtain health insurance coverage from their employer or in insurance exchanges; more are now expected to obtain coverage from Medicaid or CHIP or from nongroup or other sources. More are expected to be uninsured.
Compared with prior law, the ACA is now estimated by CBO and JCT to reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 30 million to 33 million in 2016 and subsequent years, leaving 26 million to 27 million nonelderly residents uninsured in those years.
By Don MCCanne, MD
So the projected federal spending on the Affordable Care Act over the next decade will be $50 billion less than previous projections. Directing attention to that flimsy fact hides the real news in this report. Instead of 23 million individuals being left uninsured, as the CBO previously predicted, it is now estimated that 26 to 27 million will have no insurance at all.
These numbers are approaching the 34.7 million uninsured in 1990 – a time when health reform was pushing its way back to the top of the political agenda. It was a national disgrace that we had allowed ourselves to become world leaders in both health care spending and health care injustice!
So now we finally have passed health reform legislation, but what have we actually accomplished? Higher costs, deterioration in the protection afforded by insurance, and projected uninsured rates close to those when we began this whole process.
Wasting the next decade or two tinkering with the Affordable Care Act, pretending that we’re making real progress, just won’t cut it. There are no adequate policies in the ACA model on which to build substantial reform. We need truly efficacious reform that covers absolutely everyone equitably in a universal program – a single payer national health program.
Every year that goes by without acting brings us ever more health care tragedies, not to mention financial hardship. We can’t wait around while we watch the unfolding of the failure of the ACA experiment. We need reform now. It’s an absolute moral imperative!