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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Republican health care bill indicted, again

What part of 23 million people losing their insurance does the GOP not understand?: Our view


In Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 2017.
Now we know why House Republicans were so quick to ram through an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill last month, not waiting for an estimate of its impact or holding any public hearings. Now we also know why Senate staffers, who've been charged with coming up with a draft proposal for their chamber during last week's recess, plan to start from scratch.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office got around to “scoring” the bill, and the results are not pretty. By next year, 14 million fewer people would have health insurance. Within a decade, 23 million fewer people would be covered.

Perhaps that bears repeating. If the House GOP health care bill were to become law, about 7% of the U.S. population would be added to the ranks of the uninsured.

Many of these people would lose coverage because the bill savages Medicaid. Others, with private coverage, would be priced out of the market because they have expensive medical conditions that insurers would no longer be required to cover. Indeed, the CBO analysis states that these less healthy people would face “extremely high premiums” in some states.

Still others would simply opt out of having insurance, wagering that they won’t get sick or be hospitalized, because the Republican plan drops the mandate that individuals buy coverage.

OPPOSING VIEW:


Republicans, on CBO estimates, be skeptical
And what is to be gained from this rollback? Not a lot, apart from a dramatic tax cut on the investment returns of wealthy Americans.

Because of the tax cuts, the GOP plan wouldn't even save much money in the context of a $4 trillion federal budget. Next year, the deficit would be reduced by $4.3 billion, CBO said, and by 2026 that number would grow to $56 billion, for a 10-year cumulative savings of $119 billion.

That’s not peanuts, but it’s the kind of figure that can be attained by tweaks in existing programs. By one estimate, a slightly larger savings of $121 billion could be reached, for instance, simply by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug makers.

An earlier version of the American Health Care Act, aka Trumpcare, evaluated by the CBO in March, would have bumped slightly more Americans — 24 million people — off the insurance rolls, while achieving a slightly larger deficit reduction of $337 billion.

Both amount to harsh indictments of a Republican effort that makes sense only in the context of runaway partisanship.

Republicans spent six years rallying their base by calling for the immediate repeal of President Obama's signature health care law, one that was based on prior Republican efforts at health care reform and which extended coverage to more than 20 million people.

Emerging from November's elections with control of the White House and Congress, Republicans felt obligated to move forward now, acting not unlike lemmings hurling themselves over a cliff.

In normal times, the first CBO estimate would have caused those in the majority party to drop their anti-Obamacare bill. They would have moved to a strategy of retain and repair, rather than repeal and replace. But these are not normal times when it comes to sound governance.

All you need to reach that conclusion is to read the CBO’s latest analysis.


Source USA Today
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