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Senate healthcare reform bill would leave 22 mn without coverage

Health care advocates are in the midst of a 24-hour vigil outside of the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle in New York, New York, USA, 22 June 2017. EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT

Washington, Jun 26 (EFE).- The healthcare reform bill being discussed by the US Senate would leave 22 million people without medical insurance by 2026, of whom 15 million would drop off the roles in the first year after its implementation, the Congressional Budget Office calculates in a report released Monday.

The Senate bill shows only a slight difference from the version approved by the House of Representatives, which would result in 23 million people losing their health insurance coverage.

The report by the CBO, an independent government agency that provides forecasts of the effects of laws being debated by Congress, also said that the Republican healthcare reform would reduce the deficit by $321 billion by 2026.

The forecast that some 22 or 23 million people would lose healthcare coverage – although they presently enjoy that coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare – is due essentially to a drop in the number of people who will be covered by Medicaid, the system that provides care for the most disadvantaged people in the US, and Medicare, which is designed to help retirees.

The amendments presented in the Senate to the bill approved earlier in the House penalize people who have no insurance, forcing them to wait for six months before they can reapply for – or repurchase – such coverage, thus incentivizing people to enter into the private healthcare insurance system before they become ill.

The measure is aimed at ending the obligation for people to get private healthcare insurance coverage or pay a fine, as occurs now under the reform sponsored by former President Barack Obama, which was designed – among other things – to reduce the cost of coverage by expanding the number of insured people.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is being pressured to postpone the vote on the bill, currently scheduled for this week, until there is more information available regarding the anticipated impact of the new legislation.

The CBO report is a blow to those supporting the Senate bill, including President Donald Trump, since it would not motivate as-yet-undecided Republican senators to support the initiative.

No Democratic senators support the bill, but the Republicans control both the House and the Senate and, in principle, could approve the reform bill – although it has been criticized by doctors, patients and even by insurers – if they can forge across-the-board and unwavering consensus among the 52 GOP senators.

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