On CNN, Former CBO Director Debunks “Absurd” Claim ACA Repeal Won't Leave Anyone Worse Off

Douglas Elmendorf: “Certainly People Will Be Worse Off” After Repeal Takes Away Insurance Subsidies And Incentivizes “Larger Deductibles And Co-Payments”

From the March 13 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom:

Video file

JOHN BERMAN (HOST): Joining me now, former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf. He's the dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and was at the CBO when Obamacare was passed. Doug, thank you so much for being with us. Promises like “No one will be worse off financially,” those end up being pretty hard to keep.

DOUGLAS ELMENDORF: Yes. Secretary Price's claim is absurd. This legislation will cut subsidies substantially. Millions of people will lose health insurance. We don't know how many yet, CBO will make an estimate shortly. But certainly people will be worse off.


ELMENDORF: Well, first of all, those of us who have health insurance should be careful about saying to those who don't, “Oh, don't worry, it's fine for you not to have health insurance.” For lots and lots of people, having health insurance is very important. I think we should take any decline in the number of people with health insurance very seriously. And, the main reason you'll see a decline under this legislation is the withdrawal of subsidies for some people. It's the shift in the subsidy schedule that's the big problem. And, that's not people who are better off, that's people who are not getting the support and won't be able to go buy health insurance or aren't getting the support and will have to put more out of their own pockets to go buy health insurance. Those folks are going to be worse off. There's nothing else in the legislation that particularly improves the quality of care or brings down the price of care very much. You may end up with health insurance that covers less with larger deductibles and co-payments. So the price of insurance can be reduced by that sort of change in insurance policy. But the total cost of going to get health care, which is not just the insurance premium but also any deductibles or co-payments, isn't going to be down substantially under this legislation.


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