Real CBO BCRA Headline: No Individual Market Losses In 2018, But Up 1 Million From 2017

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When the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), headlines flashed that 22 million Americans would lose their health coverage. According to its analysis, there will be 7 million fewer people in the individual health insurance market in 2026 if BCRA passes, with the remainder of projected coverage changes coming from those transitioning off Medicaid.

But a cursory look at the CBO’s own data raises serious questions about its headline conclusion and should make many in Congress ask CBO some tough questions.

CBO’s projected Medicaid losses have their own problems. For example, 5 million are projected to “lose” Medicaid expansion coverage in states that never expanded Medicaid in the first place. Another 7 million are projected to “lose” Medicaid coverage because the individual mandate goes away, even though the individual mandate does not apply to almost all of those currently on or eligible for Medicaid.