The Congressional Budget Office, the official budget scorekeeper for Congress, just handed Democrats two powerful new arguments against Obamacare repeal. In a new estimate of what would happen right away, here's what the budget office said:
- 18 million uninsured in the first year after passage of the repeal bill
- Premiums would increase by 20 to 25 percent
- Both would get worse two years later, after Medicaid expansion and Obamacare subsidies go away
Yes, but: This is an estimate of what would happen if Congress re-passed the "reconciliation bill" it passed last year — the one President Obama vetoed. It knocks out large chunks of Obamacare, but not all of it. And it doesn't include any elements of a replacement. This year, Republicans have promised to pass a replacement quickly, and some elements might be included in the repeal bill.
But still: It's a fresh look at what might happen if Republicans don't replace Obamacare right away, not after a two-year transition. And it's a strong warning about the impact if they get rid of the individual mandate, one of the most unpopular parts of Obamacare, without changing the part that requires health insurers to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions.
Democrats are already sounding the alarms about the report. Expect to hear more from them — and from insurers.