Health Care

CBO Scoring of Health Care Bill Draws Criticism

WASHINGTON – Democrats and advocacy groups wasted little time responding to the Congressional Budget office’s scoring of the American Health Care Act, legislation passed earlier this year to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act.

The CBO scoring, released Thursday, projects 14 million more Americans would be without health insurance coverage under AHCA by next year. The number of people without coverage would grow by 23 million over a 10-year period, down slightly from the 24 million projected under an earlier version of the law. It would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over 10 years, down from the $150 billion in savings projected earlier.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation prior to receiving the CBO scoring. Repealing the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – has been a GOP priority since its passage in 2010.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, responded last night on MSNBC’s Hardball and in an emailed statement.

“Trumpcare takes away health care from 23 million Americans, reduces the deficit even less than the first version, and gets there by throwing people with pre-existing conditions under the bus,” Ryan said. “This legislation is offensively bad, and will destroy the health care system Americans have come to rely on.”

Standing on the steps of the Capitol, Ryan told the Hardball audience that President Donald Trump, as a candidate, campaigned on “the complete opposite” of what the bill passed by House Republicans delivered, promising expanded coverage and more affordable health care.

“There’s a very high level of delusion in the Republican caucus in both the House and Senate if they think this is what the American people want,” he remarked. To tell 23 million people they are on their own for health coverage “while tax cuts go to the wealthy doesn’t sit well in Ohio – people who voted for Donald Trump.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, in a statement issued by his office, criticized the CBO report.

“The CBO was wrong when they analyzed Obamacare’s impact on cost and coverage, and they are wrong again,” Price said. “Americans are paying more for fewer health-care choices because of Obamacare, and that’s why the Trump administration is committed to reforming health care.”

A new analysis released Tuesday, Price said, shows premiums have doubled for individual health insurance plans since 2013, the year before many of ACA’s regulations and mandates went into effect.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also criticized the GOP health-care plan in the wake of the CBO scoring. Under the House-passed plan, insurance premiums would increase 20% on average and costs would rise so dramatically for people with pre-existing conditions that they would be unable to purchase individual plans.

“Anyone with common sense knows that paying more for less is a bad deal,” Brown said. “The House bill will drive up costs, kick Ohioans off their insurance, and leave folks who have asthma or cancer unable to even purchase a plan.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is working with a Senate panel to draft that chamber’s version of health-care reform, said previously he did not support the House version as written. “We will review this new analysis as we work on a different approach here in the Senate,” his spokesman said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., called the GOP bill “morally bankrupt and a disaster for children, middle class families, seniors and individuals with disabilities. And all of this — the higher costs and reduced protections for families — are done in order to finance a massive tax cut for the wealthiest.”

Under the Republican plan, Americans in their 50s and 60s will be required to pay what Casey characterized as an “age tax,” and individuals with preexisting conditions “risk losing their protections from discrimination and will pay higher prices for their care, if they can get someone to insure them.” The proposed $830 billion in cuts to Medicaid jeopardize nursing home care for seniors, people with disabilities may lose their ability to live independently, and children with disabilities may lose critical school-based supports, he said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, through his spokesman, said he would have a response to the CBO score later today.

Betsy Imholz, special projects director for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, also criticized the GOP plan following the CBO report. While the American people were promised that more people would be covered with better coverage for less money, the CBO analysis shows for the second time that “the only thing lessened by the American Health Care Act is the number of people with access to insurance.”

Further, the “devastating cuts to Medicaid” will threaten individuals most in need and could ultimately endanger the financial well being of the entire health-care system. “Every element of this legislation is a broken promise,” she said.

Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business owners, said the CBO report “revealed no surprises.” The health-care bill House Republicans rushed to pass “is terrible for small businesses and their customers.” It drastically increases costs, throws 23 million off their insurance and “ultimately puts small business owners back in a position of paying more for less coverage.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten offered a blunt assessment of the bill following the CBO scoring, which she said confirms Republicans are trying to sell Americans “a pig in a poke” with the bill.

“If this bill were a bond it would have junk status. It’s time to throw it out and start over with a focus on mending what is wrong with our health-care system and expanding access to the affordable healthcare families deserve,” she said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.