Yesterday the CBO said that nearly 6 million people, most of whom are middle class, will face a tax penalty under the Affordable Care Act for not getting health insurance. The AP (9/20, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports that the new CBO numbers are “50 percent higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect.” The AP adds that the new estimate, which is “significantly” higher than original estimates, “amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.”
The Washington Times (9/20, Cunningham) reports that the CBO “said the government will collect about $7 billion from the tax in 2016, and $8 billion a year thereafter.” The Times also notes that the “six million expected to pay the penalty is a relatively small percentage of the 30 million non-elderly residents who will be uninsured in 2016.”
CQ (9/20, Ethridge, Subscription Publication) explains that “about 85 percent of that increase is due to changes resulting from higher unemployment rates, lower wages and salaries, and the effects from laws passed since 2010.”
The Hill (9/20, Baker) “Healthwatch” blog adds that another reason for the estimate’s increase is the Supreme Court ruling that states could opt out of Medicaid expansion. In states that opt out, “millions of people will lose Medicaid as an option. Most will be poor enough to be exempt from the individual mandate, but a small percentage will have to buy private coverage or pay the fine.”
Also reporting are Reuters (9/20, Dixon, Morgan), Modern Healthcare (9/20, Zigmond, Subscription Publication), and MarketWatch (9/20, Britt).