Republicans pushed back Monday on a report from the Congressional Budget Office that predicted that 14 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the GOP’s American Health Care Act. HHS Secretary Tom Price said the CBO failed to consider several portions of the Republican replacement, and House Speaker Paul Ryan said that there were positive aspects of the scorecard that the media was ignoring.
In an interview with Fox News, Ryan said that CBO report confirmed what Republicans had been saying about the AHCA – namely, that it would “stabilize the market and lower premiums” for patients. Ryan said that the CBO’s estimate regarding the uninsured was something of a red herring, seeing as how many of those customers never wanted to buy health insurance in the first place.
He said it was ridiculous to expect the GOP plan to compete with Obamacare, where Americans are forced to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty.
“Our plan is not about forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage,” Ryan said in a statement. “It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford.”
Ryan also highlighted the CBO’s estimate that the Republican healthcare legislation would shave more than $300 billion off the annual budget deficit.
On the administration side, HHS Secretary Price said Monday that the CBO had completely missed the second and third prongs of the Obamacare replacement plan when concocting their report.
“The CBO looked at a portion of our plan but not the entire plan,” Price said. “We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want, the coverage that they want for themselves and their families.”
Price also took issue with the CBO’s uninsured estimate, saying they were counting people as currently insured even if they weren’t signed on to Obamacare.
“I’m not sure how they’re going to get to 14 million people uninsured, if that’s what they say, with only 8 million people on the exchange,” he said.
The Republican healthcare plan is not beyond criticism by any means, but Ryan is right about one thing: It makes no sense to make a direct comparison to Obamacare by counting the number of uninsured Americans. If anything, the CBO’s estimate proves that there are millions of people currently buying health insurance plans they don’t particularly want.
Still, if the GOP lets Democrats control the narrative on this bill, perception will become reality. And the perception of this legislation, as it stands right now, is extremely bad.