CBO Rolls Back Obamacare’s Price Tag
Policy + Politics

CBO Rolls Back Obamacare’s Price Tag


Washington budgeteers have some good news for Obamacare and its impact on the federal deficit. 

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office along with the Joint Committee on Taxation have revised the cost of the Affordable Care Act down to $1.21 trillion over the next decade. That’s an 11 percent reduction, or roughly $143 billion less than the $1.34 trillion the agency had projected in January. 

Related: How Obamacare Rates With Consumers One Year Later 

The report gave two main reasons for the major revision: a slowdown in health care spending and lower-than-expected enrollment in the law’s exchanges. 

Health care spending growth has slowed to record levels, largely due to a sluggish economic recovery as well as several provisions in the health care law that were intended to rein in spending, as previously reported here

The spending slowdown has caused premiums to rise less quickly than expected, reducing how much money the government will spend on tax credits to subsidize premiums for people enrolled through the exchanges. 

CBO now expects the cost of Obamacare’s subsidies to drop 20 percent or by $209 billion over the next decade. 

Related: Obamacare’s Fate Rests on an Argument on States’ Rights 

The budget forecasters also lowered their enrollment expectations for the number of people signing up on the exchanges, also contributing to the reduction in the cost of subsidies over the next decade. 

CBO said the expected drop in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment should also lower the government’s costs by $73 billion. 

The revisions come just as Obamacare fate lingers on a looming Supreme Court decision that threatens to gut the entire law and send the health care system into a tailspin. 

But as others have also pointed out, the administration’s own poor handling of the health law’s online launch, in addition to other errors, have hurt the perception of the law by many Americans. 

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