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Federal cost projection of ACA reduced by a third

Projected federal cost to pay for Obamacare insurance in 2019 lowered to $148 billion from $214 billion, CBO says.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

As Republicans await the Congressional Budget Office's projected cost of repeal and replace, the CBO on March 3 said it has significantly lowered its projected federal spending for Obamacare insurance.

The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation currently project that the gross cost to the federal government for the ACA's insurance coverage provision will be lower than originally estimated when the law was passed in March 2010.

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The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee originally estimated that the gross cost of the ACA's insurance coverage provision would be $214 billion in 2019. They currently project a cost of $148 billion in 2019, a reduction of about one-third, the report said.

The downward projections are based on slower than expected growth in enrollment in the ACA, a slowdown in the overall growth of healthcare costs covered by private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and the the Supreme Court's decision to make Medicaid expansion an option for states.

Many of the ACA's provisions are embedding in spending for pre-existing programs such as Medicare, so are hard to calculate, the CBO said.

[Also: Obamacare popularity grows as independent voters shift to favorable position on landmark legislation]

It was more feasible to assess the effects of insurance coverage provisions because some can be identified separately in the budget.

The CBO did its projections following a February hearing by House Committee on the Budget with CBO Director Keith Hall, on the budget and economic outlook for 2017 to 2027.

Congressman Todd Rokita of Indiana, a Republican, asked how the original cost estimate for the Affordable Care Act aligns with reality. He is vice chairman of the Committee on the Budget.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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