The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday said that repealing Obamacare's individual mandate penalties would save $338 billion over the next decade, providing a potential injection of money to help finance Republican tax reform efforts.
The CBO acknowledged Wednesday that it was revisiting its methodology around the repeal of the individual mandate, but that changes would not be included in a full report set to be released later in the afternoon. Keith Hall, CBO director, said in a blog post that the evaluation was still underway by his agency and by the Joint Committee on Taxation.
"The agencies are in the process of revising their methods to estimate the repeal of the individual mandate," he said. "However, because that work is not complete and significant changes to the individual mandate are now being considered as part of the budget reconciliation process, the agencies are publishing this update without incorporating major changes to their analytical methods."
News of rumors about the change in CBO's methodology had been reported Tuesday in the Washington Examiner.
Obamacare's individual mandate obligates that people purchase health insurance or pay a fine. Proponents say that it is needed to help bring healthier customers into Obamacare's exchanges to help keep costs down for the pool. Opponents say it has not been effective in achieving this outcome.
Hall said in the blog that it would reveal doing so would reduce federal budget deficits by $338 billion between 2018 and 2027, relative to CBO’s most recent baseline. In past reports, CBO has said that the decrease in deficits would be a result of fewer people signing up for Medicaid, lower enrollment in Obamacare's subsidized private plans, and a reduction in the number of people purchasing tax-advantaged health insurance plans through their employers. In total, an earlier CBO report found that health insurance coverage would fall by 15 million people.
Some conservative lawmakers are pushing to include the repeal in the Republican tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, because of savings would help close deficits produced by cutting taxes.