- Associated Press - Monday, March 13, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that a nonpartisan analysis of the Republican plan to replace the national health care law “confirms our worst fears.”

Monday’s report by the Congressional Budget Office projects that 14 million people nationwide would lose coverage next year under the House bill dismantling former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Under the estimate, there would be 24 million more people uninsured by 2026 than under current law.

“It would actually leave our nation worse off than before the ACA was implemented,” Inslee said in a written statement. Inslee said he would be contacting all of the state’s congressional delegation to ask them “to reject this attack on working families and vulnerable Americans.”

The GOP legislation, which would eliminate the current mandate that nearly all people in the United States carry insurance or face fines, would use tax credits to help consumers buy health coverage and expand health savings accounts. It would also phase out an expansion of Medicaid and cap that program for the future, end some requirements for health plans under Obama’s law, and repeal several taxes.

State officials have said that more than 600,000 lower-income people in Washington state who gained coverage through Medicaid expansion could potentially lose coverage depending on what changes are made to the law at the federal level. If the state sought to backfill the Medicaid expansion numbers in order to keep those people covered, the state would face additional costs of $1.5 billion a year, according to Bob Crittenden, Gov. Jay Inslee’s senior policy adviser for health care. Additionally, Crittenden said, if the state were to return to paying for health programs that were replaced by the federal law, the state’s costs would increase by an additional $330 million every two years.

In a written statement, Democratic U.S. Patty Murray said the Republican plan is “a broken promise to every patient and family who listened when President Trump and Republicans said that their reckless, mean-spirited bill would somehow provide better coverage-for everyone-at lower cost.”

Health Secretary Tom Price says that the administration disagrees “strenuously” with the CBO’s findings, and Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said that the report’s score “doesn’t tell the whole story.”

CBO doesn’t take into account future actions Congress and the Administration will take to further lower costs and increase coverage options,” she said in a written statement. “Our plan will open up the insurance market so more people can find plans they want at prices they can afford, while addressing the disconnect between coverage and access to care.”

McMorris also noted that the report confirms that premiums will ultimately be lowered.

The budget office found that average premiums for individuals would rise in 2018 and 2019 by 15 percent to 20 percent compared to current law, because Republicans would eliminate the penalties designed to induce people to buy insurance coverage.

But beginning in 2020, premiums would begin to fall in comparison to current law, and by 2026 average premiums for people buying individual coverage would be roughly 10 percent lower than current law.

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