The CBO has refused to adjust its computations to the ever-more-apparent failings of the Affordable Care Act. When the CBO says that 23 million fewer people will have insurance coverage under the AHCA than under the ACA—a statistic that politics have converted into a mantra—that figure is predicated on fictional ACA participation. The CBO assumes 18 million people will be enrolled in ACA exchanges in 2018 and that enrollment will continue to grow until 2026. No one on any side of the political spectrum believes this to be true.

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The Trump budget assumes Obamacare repeal. On the tax side of this, it particularly assumes repeal of the 3.8% point surtax on capital gains, dividends, and other savings (known as the “net investment income tax,” or NIIT). There are approximately 20 other new or higher taxes in Obamacare that also will be repealed. Tax reform assumes they are gone before starting on a new system.

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The Congressional Budget Office released its latest Obamacare-related estimatelast week, predicting that the House-passed bill to repeal and replace the embattled law would lead to 23 million more uninsured people by 2026. Although CBO itself acknowledges that this latest prediction is “especially uncertain,” one thing is true: CBO is wrong. The Galen Institute’s Doug Badger explains why in a new Galen Institute paper that can be found here. The agency’s errors are not only significant—one prediction of 2016 exchange-based enrollment missed by 140%–but the agency is also consistent: it regularly over-estimates the number of people who would get insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.

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CBO claims that the House repeal and replace bill could degrade the quality of insurance. This editorializing could use some scrutiny. Without government supervision of insurance minutiae and a mandate to buy coverage or pay a penalty, CBO asserts that “a few million” people will turn to insurance that falls short of the “widely accepted definition” of “a comprehensive major medical policy.” Under the House reform, Americans won’t have any problem insuring against a bad health event, even if CBO won’t admit it. The House bill is designed is create more alternatives that can accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of a nation of some 320 million people. CBO has become a fear factory because it prefers having government decide for everybody.

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The political world waited with rapt attention Wednesday for the oracles at the Congressional Budget Office to release their cost-and-coverage predictions for the revised House health reform bill. CBO confirmed that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is a major fiscal dividend, cutting taxes by $992 billion, spending by $1.1 trillion, and the deficit by $119 billion over 10 years. However, CBO says 14 million fewer people on net would be insured in 2018 relative to the ObamaCare status quo, rising to 23 million in 2026. The problem with this educated guess about enrollment is that CBO’s models put too much confidence in the effectiveness of central planning. CBO’s projections about ObamaCare enrollment are consistently too high and discredited by reality year after year.
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President Trump has proposed a budget that increases government spending from $4 trillion today to $5.5 trillion in 2027. Only in the alternative reality of Washington can this be described as “budget cuts.” Looking at individual programs, it is a gross mischaracterization to state that spending on Medicaid programs will be cut. The new budget proposes to increase federal Medicaid spending from $378 billion a year today to $524 billion a year in 2027. It shows how far removed Washington is from everyday Americans for this increase of $146 billion to be called a cut. The fundamental problem is that special interests are addicted to the rising path of spending. Altering this path by increasing spending at a slower rate opens change-makers to extraordinary attacks.

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Obamacare is collapsing. Its utter failures become more obvious by the day. We all remember the promises of Obamacare, chief among them that the “Affordable Care Act” would lower health care costs. The opposite has occurred. Despite the offer of subsidies through the exchanges, enrollment in Obamacare has been dismal. Younger, healthier individuals have little interest in paying exorbitant premiums for insurance plans that come with $5,000 deductibles. The result has been an unbalanced insurance pool where insurers must charge ever-increasing premiums to continue offering coverage.

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In new research published by the Mercatus Center, I analyze the causes and impact of the much higher-than-expected enrollment and spending associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion. Though unpredicted by Washington experts, the results were predictable. The federal government’s 100% financing of state spending on expansion enrollees has led states to boost enrollment and create high payment rates. (See this 2-minute Mercatus video for additional information on this significant development.)

In states that have expanded, enrollment and per enrollee spending are nearly 50% higher than predicted. While interest groups within the states—particularly hospitals and insurers—benefit from the higher spending being charged to federal taxpayers, substantial evidence suggests much of this new spending is wasted or provides little value for its intended recipients.

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The Congressional Budget Office’s latest long-term forecast, released last month, is a bracing report. As President Obama’s term comes to end, CBO finds that the federal government is on track to run up historically large deficits over the coming three decades, pushing federal debt to 141% of GDP, up from 39% in 2008.

The president has mostly avoided talking about the federal budget during his time in office, but he did promise that the Affordable Care Act — ObamaCare — would help lower deficits in the short and long term. CBO backed him up on this claim in 2010, estimating that the deficit would be reduced by 0.5% to 1.0% of GDP over the medium term. But the agency’s new forecast shows why the law is more likely to make the deficit worse, not better.

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Another day, another healthcare co-op failure. In July alone, three co-ops, HealthyCt in Connecticut, Community Care of Oregon, and Land of Lincoln in Illinois announced they are closing up shop. They join 13 other failed co-ops out of the original 23 that were a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act’s vision for the future of healthcare organization — an unrealistic vision based on wishful thinking and sabotaged by the ACA itself.

The ACA created Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (co-ops) — private, state licensed, non-profit health insurance companies — to provide low-cost, consumer friendly coverage to individuals and small businesses. The theory was that since the co-ops didn’t have to show a profit, they could charge lower premiums, provide more services and be more responsive to their members. They would use collective purchasing power to lower administrative and information technology costs and keep members healthy through preventive care and evidence-based medicine.

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