Thirty-two million more people would become uninsured over the next decade under a plan to repeal Obamacare now and replace it later, according to a cost estimate released Wednesday evening by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO score also projects 17 million more people would become uninsured next year, compared to current law. It also estimates that average premiums would increase by about 25 percent.
The measure appeared to be similar to a 2015 Senate-passed bill that President Obama vetoed that would have repealed Obamacare with a two-year delay to find a replacement plan. The Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA) of 2017 would eliminate Obamacare's individual and employer mandates and repeal the law's Medicaid expansion at the end of 2019. It would also repeal Obamacare-related taxes over the next few years.
CBO released an analysis in January of the 2015 version, which projected that 18 million more people would become uninsured in 2018, with 32 million over a decade.
The new cost estimate Wednesday comes after Senate Republicans lunched with President Trump at the White House to discuss next steps on health care and before an evening meeting between Trump administration officials and GOP holdouts on the bill.
Regardless of the CBO's score, it's unclear what exactly the Senate plans to vote on next week. Before the meeting with Mr. Trump, the plan was to vote on what appears to be the ORRA. After the meeting, senators said that the president emphasized that a repeal must be paired with a replacement plan. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said they're "still discussing" what they plan to hold a vote on.
"I suspect it'll be anything a senator wants to vote on," he told reporters as he entered his office. "In other words, there's no limitation. If some senator wants to offer an amendment that's the 2015 bill. They can do that. But if we get an agreement here, my preference would be to start to the [Better Care Reconciliation Act]...the agreed-to language. I think we're getting closer."
As Republicans learned in 2015, even if they can somehow muster the votes, they will be unable to fully repeal Obamacare through the budget reconciliation process, which allows them to pass certain legislation with a simple majority rather than a supermajority.
The reconciliation process has certain rules that only allowed Republicans to touch Obamacare's budget-related provisions, not its regulations. The bill would repeal all of Obamacare's subsidies, taxes, and penalties for those who don't buy insurance, but keeps in place Obamacare's rules about what insurers must cover.