With eight hours left of debate in the Senate reconciliation process, it appears all of the Republicans’ chances of repealing (or replacing) Obamacare will come down to a single option: the “skinny repeal.”
Not much is known about the skinny repeal, however. At the end of Wednesday’s debate session, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for keeping the text of the bill secret, and promised that Democrats would offer no further amendments until the secret plan was revealed. What is known about the ace up McConnell’s sleeve is that it would likely eliminate Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, along with some of its taxes, but the specifics and the broader impacts of such a bill are as of yet unknown.
But Wednesday evening, some of the effects of a bill like the skinny repeal became more clear. Democrats submitted a draft of what they expect in the skinny repeal to the Congressional Budget Office for a score estimate on the deficit, the number of people covered, and premiums. The CBO score found that their proto-skinny repeal would increase the number of uninsured people by 16 million over baseline estimates by 2026, would decrease the projected federal deficit by $142 billion over the same time period, and would increase premiums in the exchanges by 20 percent.
Caveat emptor: This isn’t a score of the actual skinny repeal deal, but of an approximation of what it’s expected to contain. Based on Senator Rand Paul’s comments, and some other reports from Republicans, the scored amendment would repeal Obamacare’s mandates, repeal its medical-device tax, defund Planned Parenthood, eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and eliminate Obamacare’s additional commitment to community health centers. At least one of those provisions—defunding Planned Parenthood—has already been shot down under the 50-vote rules by the Senate parliamentarian, so it’s unlikely that provision would show up in a serious reconciliation bill. So it’s already all-but-certain that this won’t be the precise form the actual bill takes.