World

23 million Americans to lose healthcare coverage by 2026 if Trump bill passes

WASHINGTON: A bill passed by US House Republicans would cause 23 million people to lose healthcare coverage by 2026 while destabilising health insurance markets in some states and making it hard for sick people to buy insurance, a budget watchdog agency said on Wednesday.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan group of experts who analyse US legislation, said the bill would reduce federal deficits by US$119 billion (S$164.7 billion) by 2026.

The report could give added ammunition to Democrats who have accused President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans of putting sick and low-income people at risk with their effort to roll back former President Barack Obama's signature 2010 healthcare law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act but often called Obamacare.

The report also complicates the job of Senate Republicans - some of whom already have doubts about the House bill - as they craft their own healthcare legislation.

Republicans have sought to unravel Obamacare since its passage and Mr Trump promised on the campaign trail to repeal it, saying it is too costly and an overreach by government in the healthcare market.

As Mr Trump and Republican leaders sought to bring wavering lawmakers on board with the House bill, they added a controversial last-minute amendment that would give states leeway to drop an Obamacare requirement that forces insurers to charge sick and healthy people the same insurance rates.

Another change would allow states to decide whether to require insurers to cover health benefits such as maternity care and prescription drugs that are mandatory under current law.

But the CBO report said the amendment would make it difficult for people in poor health to purchase comprehensive coverage in some states.- REUTERS

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