WASHINGTON - The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the number of Americans without health insurance would rise by 22 million during the next decade under the U.S. Senate's version of a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.
That number is one million lower than the CBO estimated under the House of Representatives bill that narrowly passed last month. The CBO said Monday the Senate bill would reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion by 2026, compared to a $119 billion reduction for the House version.
Estimates for both bills expect average health insurance premiums to rise in the first two years, but fall beginning in 2020, while people pay more out of their pocket for deductibles and copayments.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the CBO score shows the Senate bill is "every bit as mean as the House bill."
"Republicans would be wise to read it like a giant stop sign urging them to turn back from this path that would be disastrous for the country, for middle class Americans and for their party," he said.
The White House criticized the CBO as having a "history of inaccuracy" when it comes to estimating the effects of health care laws. It further reiterated that President Donald Trump is committed to repealing and replacing the ACA, also commonly referred to as Obamacare, saying the program "has failed the American people for far too long."
Several Republicans have indicated they will not support moving forward with the party's bill in the Senate, putting the measure at risk of failure with Republicans holding only a 52-48 majority. Those opposed include moderates concerned about how the new law would hurt constituents back home and conservatives who say the bill leaves too much of the current system intact.
With no Democrats expected to support the Senate bill, Trump on Monday used Twitter to continue his criticism of the opposition lawmakers as "obstructionists," saying they "have no policies or ideas."
"Republican senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats. Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!" Trump wrote.
The new health care bill would end the requirement that Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine. It would phase out subsidies to help lower income people buy insurance, curb taxes on the wealthy and cut hundreds of billions of dollars in funding over the next several years for the government's health care program for the poor and disabled.
Ever since Obamacare was enacted in 2010 without any Republican votes, House Republicans have voted dozens of times to repeal it, a futile effort as long as Obama was president. But repeal of the law could be possible with Republicans in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.
If the Senate approves its repeal version, either the House would have to pass the same bill or reconcile its version with the Senate's before Trump could sign it into law.