The Congressional Budget Office’s report on the Republican Obamacare replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, is the closest thing we have to an objective analysis of the legislation. With that in mind, the credibility of this version of the replacement bill is ireparably damaged.
Vox.com has some of the best coverage of of the CBO analysis, nicely distilled in this excerpt of Ezra Klein’s blistering critique:
The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the GOP’s American Health Care Act is one of the most singularly devastating documents I’ve seen in American politics. For a thorough explanation of the findings, read Sarah Kliff’s explainer. But here is the one-sentence summary: Under the GOP’s bill, the more help you need, the less you get.
The AHCA would increase the uninsured population by about 24 million people — which is more people than live in New York state. But the raw numbers obscure the cruelty of the choices. The policy is particularly bad for the old, the sick, and the poor. It is particularly good for the rich, the young, and the healthy.
Here, in short, is what the AHCA does. The bill guts Medicaid, halves the value of Obamacare’s insurance subsidies, and allows insurers to charge older Americans 500 percent more than they charge young Americans.
Then it takes the subsidies that are left and reworks them to be worth less to the poor and the old, takes the insurers that are left and lets them change their plans to cover fewer medical expenses for the sick, and rewrites the tax code to offer hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich. As Dylan Matthews writes, it is an act of class warfare by the rich against the poor…This is not fine. It is not decent, it is not compassionate, and it is not what Republicans promised. It is a betrayal of Donald Trump’s vow to protect Medicaid from cuts and to pass a health care bill that covers everyone with insurance that has lower deductibles and better coverage.
Predictably enough, Speaker Paul Ryan tried to put lipstick on the pig in his statement reacting to the CBO analysis. Ryan’s strategy, however, was less predictable in that he claimed the CBO report affirmed the AHCA’s merits, instead of bashing away at the CBO like other Republicans. “This report confirms that the American Health Care Act will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care,” said Ryan. “It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford.”
Having affirmed the credibility of the CBO on the AHCA makes it difficult for Ryan to blast it later on. In is New York Magazine aticle, “Paul Ryan Tries to Bluff and Fib His Way Through CBO Fiasco,” Ed Kilgore comments on Ryan’s response:
This is, to put it mildly, a disingenuous take. According to CBO, the AHCA will actually boost premiums in the short term, and will boost them even more for poorer and older Americans. It does not, in fact, improve “access to quality, affordable care” — the insufficiency of its tax credits are a big reason for the coverage losses CBO anticipates. Ryan’s argument that this is just part of a “three-pronged approach” is specious for the reason I mentioned above: The idea that any iteration of this deeply broken Republican health-care plan will conceivably command 60 votes in the Senate is pure fantasy.
The Republican vision of national security never seems to include the health of millions of Americans, who would be seriously endangered by this Obamacare replacement bill. It would certainly kill and sicken many more Americans than terrorists likely will murder in the years ahead. Apparently, Speaker Ryan and the bill’s supporters think that is an acceptable sacrifice to make on the altar of the GOP’s most sacred cause, ever-increasing tax cuts for the wealthy.