South Carolina’s Republican lawmakers stood with President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday, casting doubt on the validity of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s bleak report on the impact of a GOP health care plan.
“History has shown that it is very hard for CBO to be accurate or complete on health care. CBO’s past predictions on health care have proven to be unrealistic,” Sen. Tim Scott said in an email.
Noting an April 2014 CBO report, he said: “They themselves said in 2014 that they could no longer determine the overall fiscal impact of the Affordable Care Act.”
The CBO on Monday estimated 14 million people would lose health care coverage within the first year if the GOP’s American Health Care Act is passed. The number of people without insurance would climb to 24 million by the year 2026, according to the CBO.
“I don’t understand how (the CBO) arrived at that conclusion,” Rep. Tom Rice told McClatchy. “In terms of CBO score I can tell you this: Obamacare in South Carolina is failing miserably.”
Rice attributed the failure to a dwindling number of health care providers in his state. He said he thought South Carolina’s health care system could make a comeback if the GOP health plan became law.
“I’ll guarantee you that the great bulk, if not all, of those people will move right back into individual policies and there will be very little, if any, loss of insurance policies in South Carolina if we do the bill that we’re talking about,” Rice added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more people wouldn’t get insurance from our bill in South Carolina than have insurance today under Obamacare.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” after the CBO report came out Monday night, said the GOP should move cautiously.
“Here’s what I would suggest: Look at the CBO as a sort of a blinking warning light,” Graham said. “Obama ran through every stop sign, every warning light to get to where he wanted to go. All I’m asking is slow down; absorb this report.”
Rep. Joe Wilson dove into the report and found other data points that he thinks demonstrate the value of the GOP proposal.
“The report clearly predicts that by expanding choices our legislation will lower premiums and improve access to care for families in South Carolina and across the country,” said Wilson in a statement Monday. “The report also outlines how our plan will reduce the deficit through common-sense regulatory reform.”
“Additionally, this score just reflects the first phase of our three-step process for responsibly repealing and replacing Obamacare. I am confident that when considering the entirety of our plan, it will show how we’re committed to give all Americans access to affordable, high-quality health care by increasing choices and free-market competition.”
Reps. Jeff Duncan and Trey Gowdy took a more analytical approach to the report. In several tweets Tuesday morning, Duncan explained some of its contents to his followers and said he was dissecting it.
“Lots of quotes and nuggets in the CBO score that all sides of the debate can use,” Duncan wrote. “Biggest debate over CBO score won’t be cost, but rather total number estimated to be insured.”
After reading the report, Gowdy said an ultimate decision should be made once all accurate facts and reports had been gathered.
“The CBO score – along with other information which may corroborate or contradict the conclusions reached by the CBO – is part of the information gathering process,” Gowdy said in an email statement. “President Trump, Speaker Ryan, Secretary Price and OMB Director Mulvaney say the current House bill is but step one in what will be at least a three step process. Gathering the most amount of information and listening to constituent perspectives seems the prudent thing to do.”
Reps. Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford did not return calls seeking comment.