The Corner

The Congressional Budget Office on Repealing and Replacing Obamacare

Avik Roy and Charles Blahous both write about the CBO’s new report on the effects of the partial repeal of Obamacare that Republicans are contemplating. Both of them point out that CBO may well be overestimating how effective Obamacare’s fines on the uninsured are at getting people to buy health insurance–although, as Blahous points out, a finding that they are highly effective amounts to a finding that a lot of people wouldn’t find buying an Obamacare-compliant policy worthwhile without a threat.

An additional point worth making: The report suggests that a repeal of Obamacare’s tax-and-spending provisions would cause the number of people with insurance to be lower by 27 million in year one and 32 million in 2026 than it would be with those provisions in place. A more complete repeal that also did away with Obamacare’s regulations would cause the number to be lower by 21 million in year one and 23 million in 2026 compared to what we would see with Obamacare fully in place. A bill that got rid of the regulations and the fiscal provisions of Obamacare would therefore yield 6 million more people covered in year one and 9 million more covered in 2026, compared to a partial repeal. These findings strengthen the case that the law’s regulations have serious effects on the budget, and that it should therefore be allowed to modify or abolish them in a budget-reconciliation bill that is immune from filibusters. And so they strengthen the case for the legislative strategy on Obamacare that Yuval Levin advocated on NRO yesterday.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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