CBO Health Care Score: What is It and Why You Should Care

CBO Health Care Score: What is It and Why You Should Care

May 30 2017

You’ve likely heard the term “CBO score” mentioned in reference to the health care bill making its way through Congress.

But it’s not often clear what it means or why it’s important.

Here are a few quick facts about the CBO score and how it could impact proposed reforms to our health care system.

What is the CBO?

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides Congress with independent analyses and estimates related to federal economic and budgetary decisions. The agency is strictly nonpartisan and hires its employees based solely on professional competence, not political affiliation.

What does ‘score’ mean and why is it important?

The CBO does not make policy recommendations. Instead, the agency’s economists and budget analysts produce dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates – also known as “scores” – for virtually every bill approved by Congressional committees to show how the bill would affect long-term spending or revenues.

Since 1975, the nonpartisan agency has been known for producing objective and rigorous estimates of the cost of each piece of proposed legislation to American taxpayers.

How did the CBO score the House health care bill?

According to its cost estimate on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the CBO projects the House-approved bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $119 billion over a decade. The largest savings would come from cutting Medicaid and reducing tax credits for middle-income insurance buyers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Additional estimates from the CBO report:

  • 14 million fewer people would be insured in 2018, increasing to 23 million in 10 years
  • 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured in 2026
  • 14 million people would lose Medicaid coverage as a result of $834 billion in cuts to the federal program over 10 years.

While the CBO is respected for nonpartisan thoroughness in its estimates of the costs and impacts of legislation, it is important remember that no projection is exact, particularly when it comes to large, complex programs. Nonetheless, the estimate is certainly informative for Senate leaders as they take up health care reform action. Learn more about the next steps for the bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.

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