WASHINGTON — New rules from two federal agencies could lead to 2 million fewer people than previously estimated gaining health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said last month.
About 25 million uninsured people are expected to gain coverage through the use of subsidized health plans or an expansion of Medicaid, down from a February estimate of 27 million, the budget office said in a report that was issued on May 18.
The reduction in newly covered patients is a result of proposed regulations from the Treasury and Health and Human Services departments that would allow as many as 1 million more people to avoid penalties for going without health insurance, CBO said.
The budget office’s latest estimate continues a downslide in the number of people who will gain coverage. Since 2011, the year after the ACA was passed, the estimated number of newly insured has slid from a high of 34 million to its current 25 million.
One of the keys to driving down the projected number of people who will gain health insurance came last summer when the Supreme Court ruled that states do not have to participate in the law’s mandated expansion of Medicaid.
That ruling led the Obama administration to issue regulations that “expanded the number of people who will be exempt from paying a penalty for being uninsured relative to our previous expectations,” CBO analysts said in their report.
So far, 20 states are opposing the Medicaid expansion.
Meanwhile, opponents of the health care reform legislation continue to try to repeal the law. Republicans in the House of Representative have voted 37 times to repeal the 2010 health care overhaul, with the latest vote coming last month.
“Obamacare is enforced by the IRS, probably the most feared federal agency in the United States government,” the repeal act’s main sponsor, Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R., Minn.) said about why Americans should fear the law.
“We’re all sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, and that’s why we have to end this horrible piece of legislation,” she said.
The latest effort in the House to repeal the health care law saw 40 Republican representative offer explanations for why the law needed repealing, reasons that observers say went beyond the usual Republican opposition to it.
For instance, Rep. Luke Messer, a freshman lawmaker from Indiana, called the law “the biggest assault on the 40-hour workweek in this country in a generation.” Employers, he said, were cutting employees’ hours in anticipation of the new policies’ costs.
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