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CBO: Supreme Court ruling means 3 million fewer with health care

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AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

(Read caption) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., flanked by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., left, and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn of S.C., speaks about the Affordable Care Act, Wednesday, July 11, 2012, in Washington. Hoyer said new estimates for the law's costs from the Congressional Budget Office, 'tell a powerful story.'

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Congress’s non-partisan budget umpire had some relatively bad news for both Republicans and Democrats in its updated scoring of the president’s health-care reform legislation.

The new estimates for the law’s cost and scope were prompted by last month's Supreme Court’s ruling that states did not have to accept the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) requirement to expand Medicaid coverage. Several states run by Republican governors who are opponents of the law have said they will not expand Medicaid to include those earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, as posited in the law.

Republicans hell-bent on repealing President Obama’s signature health-care legislation would have to find some $11 billion per year over the next decade (for a total of $109 billion) to offset the law’s repeal and avoid increasing the nation’s debt, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio on Tuesday.

In addition, the law as currently constituted will save taxpayers $84 billion, the CBO said, as greater government-subsidized participation in health-care exchanges is more than offset by lower costs from fewer Americans enrolling in Medicaid.

“These numbers tell a powerful story,” said House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland in an e-mailed statement. “The health reform legislation we passed in the Democratic-controlled 111th Congress is achieving the goals of expanding access to insurance coverage and controlling the growth of costs for Americans’ care.”

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