CBO: Obamacare Costs Dropping

Lower enrollment because of the HealthCare.gov rollout will save the government money.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the troubled launch of the Healthcare.gov website October 30, 2013 in Washington, DC. The federal healthcare insurance exchange site has been plagued by problems since its launch on October 1. 
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Clara Ritger
March 5, 2014, 1:32 p.m.

Obama­care’s most ex­pens­ive pro­vi­sions will cost about $9 bil­lion less than ex­pec­ted, ac­cord­ing to the latest es­tim­ates from the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice.

CBO said the law’s cov­er­age pro­vi­sions — a set of policies that in­cludes the law’s in­sur­ance sub­sidies and Medi­caid ex­pan­sion — will cost the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment about $1.5 tril­lion over the next dec­ade.

The latest ana­lys­is doesn’t cov­er the whole law, and CBO re­it­er­ated that it ex­pects the law to re­duce the fed­er­al de­fi­cit. Tues­day’s ana­lys­is was con­fined to the law’s cov­er­age pro­vi­sions, and didn’t in­clude Medi­care sav­ings or new taxes on drug and med­ic­al-device com­pan­ies, which off­set the costs of ex­pand­ing cov­er­age.

The $1.5 tril­lion spend­ing es­tim­ate is about $9 bil­lion lower than es­tim­ates from last year, due in part to CBO’s es­tim­ate that roughly 1 mil­lion few­er people will ob­tain health in­sur­ance on the ex­changes and 1 mil­lion few­er people will sign up for Medi­caid and the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Plan, due to the rocky rol­lout of Health­Care.gov.

Among CBO’s oth­er jus­ti­fic­a­tions for lower­ing the cost are that in­sur­ance com­pan­ies priced ex­change premi­ums lower than the agency had an­ti­cip­ated, and that the agency now ex­pects to re­ceive more from in­sur­ance com­pan­ies than it will pay out in a pro­gram de­signed to pro­tect in­surers who get a par­tic­u­larly un­healthy—and ex­pens­ive—mix of en­rollees.

CBO es­tim­ates that 24-25 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans will get health in­sur­ance through the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ex­changes and 12-13 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans will gain Medi­caid or CHIP cov­er­age. But some Amer­ic­ans—roughly 6-7 mil­lion—will lose their em­ploy­er sponsored cov­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the pro­jec­tions, as some em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees choose in­stead to seek health in­sur­ance on the ex­changes.

What We're Following See More »
Lawmakers Express Reservations About Gov’t Hacking Powers
21 minutes ago

Twenty-three members of Congress "on Thursday asked the Justice Department to clarify how a looming rule change to the government's hacking powers could impact privacy rights of innocent Americans. The change, due to take place on December 1, would let judges issue search warrants for remote access to computers located in any jurisdiction, potentially including foreign countries. Magistrate judges can normally only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties."

Clinton Has Raised $101 Million in October
21 minutes ago

"Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that her campaign and joint fundraising committees raised $101 million in the first 19 days of October, giving her committees $153 million in cash on hand." Her campaign itself has about $62 million on hand. The campaign said the average donation was $50.

Clinton, FLOTUS Campaign Together for First Time
22 minutes ago

Hillary Clinton appeared on the campaign trail for the first time with Michelle Obama on Thursday night. At the joint appearance in North Carolina, Mrs. Obama said, “When you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined and that you shouldn’t even bother to make your voice heard.”

Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
20 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
22 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.