Speaker of the House Paul Ryan shares a laugh with Republican members of Congress after signing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and to cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood during an enrollment ceremony in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2016.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans get more bad news about ‘Obamacare’ repeal

Senate Democrats asked the Congressional Budget Office to prepare a report on what would happen if the Republican ACA repeal bill was passed and implemented. I have a strong hunch GOP lawmakers will not be pleased with the results.
About 18 million people would lose or drop their health insurance in the first year after Obamacare is repealed, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.

The nonpartisan federal agency also found that health insurance premiums would spike another 20 to 25 percent, according to the new report. Within 10 years, 32 million more people would be without health insurance, the CBO projects.

Without a replacement, health care costs overall would continue to rise every year, as would the number of people going without health insurance. Premiums would continue to go up, as well.
The full document is available in its entirety online here.

CBO officials weren’t just imagining a hypothetical Republican bill; the budget office relied on a 2015 bill that the House GOP actually passed. And the results would be dreadful: premium prices would soar, tens of millions of Americans would lose their coverage, and private insurers would run for cover as the individual market collapsed.

Or put another way, the Republican legislation would lead to systemic disaster – which would start bad and get progressively worse going forward.

The Huffington Post quoted House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office saying the CBO report is “meaningless” because it “takes into account no measures to replace the law.” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) added that the Congressional Budget Office “misses the point” because, he said, the ACA “will be replaced with lower costs and more choices.”

This is half-right. The CBO analysis did not factor in the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act when compiling the data. There is, however, a very good reason for that: there is no Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Scalise insists “Obamacare” will be replaced with a new system featuring “lower costs and more choices.” Super. Just as soon as Scalise can prove this by unveiling the House GOP’s plan, we can (a) stop laughing at these fanciful claims; and (b) get the Congressional Budget Office to prepare another unflattering report.

The broader question remains, however, whether Republicans will care what the CBO has to say. In 2009 and 2010, congressional Democrats effectively wrote legislation with the CBO in mind, desperate to prove that their plans’ numbers added up. A discouraging score from the budget office would send Dems back to redo their work until the arithmetic held up.

There’s a very real possibility, however, that GOP officials – both in Congress and in the Trump administration – simply won’t care. It’s easy to imagine Republicans, en masse, deciding that arithmetic has a well-known liberal bias, and the CBO is part of an annoying cabal determined to thwart free enterprise.


Affordable Care Act, CBO and Obamacare

Republicans get more bad news about 'Obamacare' repeal