In the run-up to today’s release of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump administration did everything it could to preemptively discredit what the CBO would find. That might be because their own analysis showed that the plan is dreadful.
According to a report from Politico, the administration ran its own estimations of how many people would lose insurance under the American Health Care Act. Reporters from the outlet say they were able to see an undated copy of that document today and it finds that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next 10 years. That’s two million more than the CBO forecast.
From the report:
The analysis found that under the American Health Care Act the coverage losses would include 17 million for Medicaid, six million in the individual market and three million in employer-based plans.
A total of 54 million individuals would be uninsured in 2026 under the GOP plan, according to the White House analysis. That’s nearly double the number projected under current law.
On March 8th, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place.” He doubled-down with a full on declaration that the CBO is fake news, “The idea that that’s any kind of authority based on the track record of what happened last time is a little far-fetched.”
When the CBO report emerged this evening, it was clear why the White House was so worried. The analysis found that by 2026 there would be 52 million Americans without insurance as opposed to the estimated 29 million who currently lack coverage. Spinmeisters from the administration quickly jumped into the fray, calling the CBO’s numbers “virtually impossible.” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price spoke to the press, saying, “We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” and “It’s just not believable is what we would suggest.”
Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich called the CBO’s report “disgustingly wrong” and insisted “they should abolish the Congressional Budget Office.” No word on how he feels about the White House analysis.
Clearly, if the document Politico saw is legitimate, those numbers would be unbelievable to the administration because they expected far worse. The White House has yet to respond to requests for comment. While the document did not have a date, it would likely be recent considering the fact that the bill was still being hammered out in secret by Representative Paul Ryan and members of a House Energy and Commerce Committee at the beginning of March.
Pointing out a broken promise by Trump, these days, seems beside the point, but hell, why not? In early January, he asserted, “everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” And he swore that his plan would include “insurance for everybody.”
Let’s face it, the Donald has nothing to do with actually crafting policy. He just says shit and sees what people like. But, House Speaker Ryan does actually get involved with the nuts and bolts. Last week, Ryan was asked how many people would lose coverage. “I can’t answer that question,” he said. He did say that he was certain the CBO would say, “‘Well, gosh, not as many people will get coverage.’”
Estimates of the number of people who die each year due to their lack of health insurance vary depending on the study. A joint study conducted by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance in 2009 found that 44,789 people in America die every year because they didn’t have coverage. Compare that with the 3,412 Americans killed by terrorism between 2001 and 2014. Trump’s insistence on various extreme measures to “keep American’s safe” rings more hollow with each passing day.