Obamacare will add more than $100 billion to the nation's deficit, according to a report issued by the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee.
Democrats dispute the findings of the report, however, with one top aide calling it “garbage.”
The Senate Budget Committee GOP staff crunched updated data on the Affordable Care Act, provided by the Congressional Budget Office, which they said refutes the agency's 2012 conclusion that the health care law would cut the deficit by $109 billion by 2022.
Instead, GOP budget staffers say the law will increase the deficit by $131 billion between now and 2024 because of “significant changes” since the law was enacted.
“Today’s report proves that taxpayers were sold a bill of goods,” said Andrew Logan, a spokesman for the GOP side of the Budget Committee. “Not only will the Democrats’ health law not reduce the deficit, it will, despite massive tax increases, actually make it worse by more than $100 billion over the next decade alone.”
Republicans say lower-than-expected initial enrollment figures, lower penalty payments by employers and individuals because of the exemptions to the coverage mandate and lower tax revenue from a reduced labor force under the law have eliminated the anticipated deficit reductions.
The healthcare law, for example, requires employers to provide insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours per week, and that rule is expected to reduce hours and jobs.
In addition, the CBO has concluded some workers are expected to drop out of the labor force in part because they can now receive subsidized healthcare coverage.
According to the CBO, 2.5 million full-time workers will leave the work force by 2024 because of the law.
Republican Budget Committee staff calculated $280 billion in tax revenue will be lost from the labor markets between 2017 and 2024.
The GOP staffers also calculated $132 billion less in healthcare savings over the next decade, thanks to overall slower growth in Medicare and Medicaid spending and $83 billion less in coverage payments.
Democrats on Tuesday criticized the report and said deficit reduction will actually be better than originally estimated.
“This report is the work of the Republican staff of the Senate budget committee and is complete garbage,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The nonpartisan, independent Congressional Budget Office continues to estimate that the Affordable Care Act will make modest reductions in the deficit over the law’s first 10 years and then over a trillion in budget savings over the next ten. However, since those original estimates have been made, health costs have been lower than anticipated so the amount of deficit reduction is likely greater than the CBO originally estimated.”