KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

CBO: Only 4 Million To Face Fines For Lacking Health Coverage

That is down about 2 million from an earlier projection by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reflecting the calculation that more of the nation's 30 million uninsured will qualify for exemptions under the law.

The Wall Street Journal: Four Million To Face Penalties For Lacking Health Coverage, CBO Says
Four million people of the nation's 30 million uninsured will pay penalties in 2016 for lacking health coverage, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates. That is down about 2 million from an earlier CBO report and reflects the CBO's calculations that more people will qualify for exemptions from the Affordable Care Act's requirements (Radnofsky and McKinnon, 6/5).

CQ Healthbeat: Health Law Penalties Will Total $46 Billion Through 2024, CBO Says
Uninsured people will pay $46 billion in penalties for failing to enroll in health plans from 2015 to 2024, according to an updated estimate from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation. The vast majority of 30 million nonelderly Americans who are uninsured will be exempt from the individual coverage mandate in the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) in 2016, the agencies reported Wednesday. All told, about 4 million people will pay a penalty because they are uninsured in that calendar year (Bettelheim, 6/5).

The Hill: CBO: Millions Will Dodge Obamacare Fines
Congressional budget scorekeepers estimated Thursday that only a fraction of the people without health insurance in 2016 will actually pay a penalty under ObamaCare's individual mandate.  In a new analysis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said only 4 million of the 30 million who are expected to be uninsured in 2016 will pay a fine. The number is a lower estimate than in 2012, before the administration added exemptions to the mandate. The CBO previously estimated that 6 million people would pay a fine (Viebeck, 6/5).

Meanwhile, the CBO drops its forecast that the health law will cut the deficit -

Roll Call: Fiscal Diagnosis Only Gets Tougher For Health Care Law
For Democratic lawmakers who were hesitant to sign onto the sweeping 2010 health care law, one of the most powerful selling points was that the Affordable Care Act would actually reduce the federal budget deficit, despite the additional costs of extending health insurance coverage to the uninsured. Four years after enactment of what is widely viewed as President Barack Obama’s key legislative achievement, however, it’s unclear whether the health care law is still on track to reduce the deficit or whether it may actually end up adding to the federal debt. In fact, the answer to that question has become something of a mystery (Krawzak, 6/4). 

The Fiscal Times: CBO Quietly Drops Forecast That Obamacare Will Cut The Deficit
One of the Obama administration's major selling points in passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010 was a Congressional Budget Office forecast that the controversial legislation would reduce the deficit by more than $120 billion over the coming decade. The CBO has consistently projected that President Obama's overhaul will reduce the deficit, and the agency estimated that the Republicans' 2011 effort to repeal the legislation would increase deficits by $210 billion from 2010 to 2021. In April, the agency quietly signaled that it can no longer make that projection; that the law had been changed and delayed so much that there is no longer a credible way to estimate the long-term effects on the deficit of all elements of the program taken together (Pianin, 6/5).

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