Estimated Cost of Affordable Care Act Reduced

The Congressional Budget Office on Monday again lowered its estimate of the cost of the Affordable Care Act, citing slow growth of health insurance premiums as a major factor.

Just since January, the budget office said, it has reduced its estimate of the 10-year cost of federal insurance subsidies by 20 percent, and its estimate of new Medicaid costs attributable to the law has come down by 8 percent.

Slower growth in health spending helps consumers and businesses, which shoulder most of the costs, and contributes to lower federal budget deficits.

The budget office now projects deficits totaling $7.2 trillion from 2016 to 2025, a decrease of 6 percent from the more than $7.6 trillion projected in January.

“The largest factor underlying that reduction is a downward revision in projected growth in premiums for private health insurance,” reflecting the fact that spending by private insurers in 2013 rose less than in preceding years and much less than expected, the budget office said in a new report.

The new estimates could help Democrats stave off Republican efforts to roll back the law. Even though millions of people have gained coverage, opinion polls show that unfavorable views of the law are still more common than favorable ones.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said the new estimates were “the latest in a long line of data points that indicate the Affordable Care Act is contributing in a very positive way to holding down the growth of health care costs.”

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary