Republicans' ACA Repeal Could Threaten Health Coverage For Thousands Of Hoosiers

Mar 14, 2017

Credit Sonny Abesamis / https://www.flickr.com/photos/enerva/

A newly-released report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts 24 million people will lose insurance coverage if the proposed GOP Obamacare replacement passes.

That could have an effect on more than 500,000 Hoosiers.

The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t offered any specific estimates on how many people in each state would lose coverage under the proposed GOP Plan, but does say the increasing number of uninsured Americans would stem from three major factors: loss of subsidies to purchase insurance on the federal exchange, discontinuation of state Medicaid expansions and the repeal of the individual mandate—the rule that requires everyone to have health insurance.

Close to 168,000 Hoosiers are enrolled through the federal marketplace --healthcare.gov-- and 73 percent of those people receive some sort of federal subsidy. Significantly more members receive coverage through the state’s HIP 2.0 program, which receives Medicaid money and, as of January 2017, boasts 430,000 members.

Indiana’s politicians continue to walk a fine line between support for the state’s tailor-made Medicaid plan and for repealing the Affordable Care Act. Governor Eric Holcomb Monday said he was holding out hope Congress would protect funding for expansions.

Monday also saw Hoosier Seema Verma—the so-called “architect” of HIP 2.0—confirmed as head of the Centers for Medicare &  Medicaid Services.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, himself an opponent of the GOP plan, was one of the handful of Democratic senators who voted to confirm Verma, saying he hopes she keeps Medicaid expansion funding intact.

Supporters of the bill pointed said easing regulations would ultimately fortify the insurance market, leading to more flexibility and freedom for customers, and reduce the federal deficit. The proposed bill would lower the deficit by $337 million, the CBO estimates. 

The office also predicts premiums would spike by 15-20 percent after the repeal, but then go down by 2026.

"I understand and appreciate the concerns some people have expressed about the CBO’s score of the AHCA," says Rep. Susan Brooks (R-5th). "As premiums go down, and coverage options increase, more people will be able to afford coverage that meets their needs. That's a key difference between the AHCA and Obamacare."

According to the US Census, more than 250,000 Hoosiers gained coverage between 2013 and 2015 after the Affordable Care Act was implemented.