×

UPDATE 1-Estimated 23 mln would lose health insurance under Republican bill -CBO

-CBO@ (Adds details, background)

WASHINGTON, May 24 (Reuters) - An estimated 23 million people would lose health coverage by 2026 under Republican legislation aimed at repealing Obamacare, a nonpartisan congressional agency said on Wednesday in the first calculation of the new bill's potential impact.

The report from the Congressional Budget Office also said federal deficits would fall by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026 under the bill, which was approved this month by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. The CBO score raises the stakes for Republican senators now working on their own version of the legislation.

House Republicans came under sharp criticism for passing the bill before the CBO could make its assessment. The Trump administration already has relied on the House bill's healthcare spending cuts in its proposed federal budget.

The bill is called the American Health Care Act and it would fulfill a long-running Republican goal - repealing and replacing much of former President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. President Donald Trump, who made replacing Obamacare a key campaign promise in 2016, and other Republicans say it is too costly and creates unwarranted government interference in healthcare decisions.

Congress is aiming to pass the bill under a process called reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of votes in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 52-48 majority, instead of 60 votes. Under those rules, all elements of the bill must have a direct budgetary impact or else they must be stricken from the legislation.

The CBO said federal deficits would fall by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026 under the Republican bill.

The House bill would eliminate most Obamacare taxes that help subsidize private health coverage for individuals, roll back the government's Medicaid health plan for the poor and disabled and replace the law's income-based tax credits for buying medical coverage with credits based on age.

A group of 13 Republican senators led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to draft their own version of the healthcare bill in the coming months.

The new CBO score predicts the AHCA would cover 1 million more Americans than a previous version of the bill, which the agency estimated would have left 24 million more people uninsured than Obamacare in 2026. (Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Bill Trott)