CBO won’t estimate full effects of Obamacare repeal until after vote deadline

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Don Humbertson, a 64 year old lung cancer surviver, is examined by Dr. Wade Harvey at the Clay-Battelle Community Health Center March 21, 2017 in Blacksville, West Virginia.

The Congressional Budget Office on Monday said it will not estimate how a new Obamacare bill will affect the number of uninsured Americans, insurance premiums and ultimately the federal deficit in coming years until after the Sept. 30 deadline for passing that legislation.

The announcement means that supporters of the Graham-Cassidy bill will not have to deal with dire CBO predictions about its effects, which have helped doom prior Obamacare replacement efforts.

The CBO said Monday it “is aiming to provide a preliminary assessment of the Graham-Cassidy bill by early next week.”

“CBO will provide as much qualitative information as possible about the effects of the legislation,” the agency said.

That will include a projection of whether Graham-Cassidy will reduce the federal budget deficit by at least the $119 billion projected by the CBO for a prior Obamacare repeal bill.

“However CBO will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.”

The term “point estimates” refers to a specific dollar amount that CBO will eventually project that the deficit will decrease by as a result of the bill becoming law.

The announcement came hours after top Democratic congressional leaders formally asked the CBO to issue a full analysis of Graham-Cassidy.

“A comprehensive CBO analysis is essential before Republicans force a hasty, dangerous vote on what is an extreme and destructive repeal bill,” a letter from those Democratic leaders said.

“Members of Congress and the American people need to know the full consequences of Graham-Cassidy before any vote.”

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