The Trump administration on Sunday continued to impugn an upcoming government analysis that’s expected to find that millions of Americans will lose their health coverage under the Affordable Care Act repeal legislation.
The Congressional Budget Office report, which could be released on Monday, will detail the cost and impact of the GOP’s American Health Care Act, which has faced harsh criticism from health care advocates.
The bill would wipe out the individual mandate, replace Obamacare’s income-based tax credits with smaller ones based on age and phase out enhanced funding for newly-eligible Medicaid recipients.
The legislation is largely financed through cuts to the Medicaid program, which the bill would move from an open-ended entitlement program to one with capped funding based on the number of enrollees.
The non-partisan Brookings Institution expects the CBO to find at least 15 million people will lose their coverage under the GOP measure over its first ten years.
“Estimates could be higher, but it’s unlikely they will be significantly lower,” a Brookings blog post noted.
Appearing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, downplayed CBO’s estimates, saying the agency hasn’t accurately estimated the number of marketplace enrollees under Obamacare.
“I love the folks at the CBO. They work really hard. They do. But sometimes we ask them to do stuff they aren’t capable of doing. And estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn’t the best use of their time,” Mulvaney said.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” HHS Secretary Tom Price was also critical, saying the “CBO has been very adept in not providing appropriate coverage statistics.”
Price said the GOP bill won’t leave 15 million without coverage as Brookings predicts.
“In fact, I believe, again, that we’ll have more individuals covered,” Price said. “And I think we’ll have folks that are evaluating this and modeling this, come out and say ‘yes indeed, this plan will in fact cover more individuals than are currently covered,’” Price said.
Under Obamacare, Mulvaney said people have coverage on paper, but still can’t afford care because of high deductibles and premiums.
“That’s what the Donald Trump plan is working on. And that’s why we think it’s going to be wildly successful.” Mulvaney said.
The GOP bill would eliminate all the taxes that funded the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates their repeal will cost roughly $600 billion through 2026 and nearly $700 billion through 2027.
More than half of the tax-cut benefits would flow to people earning more than $1 million a year who would see average tax cuts of $57,570 a year in 2025, according to estimates by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Also appearing on ABC “This Week,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark, urged House Republicans to reconsider voting for the bill, which goes before the House Budget Committee this week for further consideration.
“Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote,” Cotton said.
“I’m afraid that if they vote for this bill they’re going to put the House majority at risk next year,” Cotton said.
Some Republicans say the bill will cause premiums to fall by increasing competition among insurers, but Cotton disagreed. He said the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees should have waited for the CBO score before advancing the legislation last week.
“Whenever that estimate comes out,” Cotton said, “we need to take it seriously.”