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U.S. healthcare law repeal hurts deficits - source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An effort by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the healthcare law enacted last year would add to already huge federal budget deficits, the Congressional Budget Office warned on Thursday.

In a preliminary estimate of legislation the House is set to begin debating on Friday, the CBO said repealing the law that President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats enacted would “increase federal budget deficits over the 2012-2019 period by a total of roughly $145 billion (93 billion pounds).” It said that figure would rise to $230 billion by 2021.

The CBO also said repeal would result in 32 million fewer people having health insurance.

The nonpartisan CBO analyzes legislation for its impact on government spending and revenues and develops forecasts of U.S. economic performance.

Republicans won majority control of the House last November after campaigning on promises to slash the U.S. deficit, now at around $1.3 trillion.

During the 2010 campaigns for Congress, Republicans also said they would repeal the healthcare law, saying it places too many job-killing burdens on business and is unconstitutional because it requires individuals to purchase health insurance if they are not already covered.

Democrats still hold a majority, although narrower than last year, in the Senate, where any healthcare repeal bill is expected to be blocked.

On Friday, newly installed House Speaker John Boehner plans to begin debate on Republican legislation to repeal the healthcare law, which aimed to reduce U.S. medical costs and insure millions of people who currently can’t afford coverage.

The law also prevents insurance companies from refusing to cover patients with pre-existing conditions.

House Republican leaders have dismissed CBO’s forecasts that the healthcare law would reduce U.S. budget deficits, saying there were too many unrealistic assumptions in such forecasts.

A House committee began meeting on Thursday to put together rules governing the House floor debate of the healthcare law. That panel is expected to refuse to let Democrats offer amendments on the bill that could pass as soon as January 12.

Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Vicki Allen