Democrats call CBO report a 'stop sign' for GOP health plan while HHS Secretary Price says projections are not believable

Congressional Budget Office estimate that the Republican plan would save $337 billion but leave 24 million uninsured sparks federal debate about who the bill would really help.
By Jack McCarthy
08:54 AM
Democrats CBO GOP health plan

HHS Secretary Tom Price downplayed the Congressional Budget Office projections about the American Health Care Act. But Democrats and industry associations spoke out against the legislation. 

The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would save $337 billion but do so, in part at least, by reducing the number of people with health insurance by 14 million by 2018 and by 24 million by 2026, according to a report released Monday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.  

Democrats immediately used the report to argue against the American Health Care Act while Republicans questioned the validity of CBOs projections, industry trade groups spoke out against the legislation.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for instance, said during a press conference that the CBO report shows that the Republican promise that everyone will get insurance coverage and costs will go down is an empty one.

“This should be a looming stop sign for the Republicans’ repeal effort,” Schumer said, adding that the bill spends twice as much on tax credits for the wealthy than it does for the middle class.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, however, questioned the CBOs analysis, calling the projection of uninsured Americans “just not believable,” and saying during a press conference at the White House that “we disagree strenuously with the report.”

The American Medical Association on Monday came out strongly against the Republican bill, based on the CBO findings, saying the outcomes it predicted were “unacceptable.”

“While the Affordable Care Act was an imperfect law, it was a significant improvement on the status quo at the time, and the AMA believes we need continued progress to expand coverage for the uninsured. Unfortunately, the current proposal – as the CBO analysis shows – would result in the most vulnerable population losing their coverage,” said AMA President Andrew Gurman, MD. “Importantly, we hope the CBO estimates will motivate all Members of Congress to find a pathway to work together on significantly improving proposed health reform legislation so it is more focused on serving the very real needs of patients and improving the health of our nation."

Even before the CBO report, a wide assortment of health groups denounced the Republic health plan.

Last week, groups representing hospitals and nurses sent a letter to lawmakers, saying “As organizations that take care of every individual who walks through our doors, both due to our mission and our obligations under federal law, we are committed to ensuring health care coverage is available and affordable for all.”

The focus in the Republican plan on cutting back Medicaid counters recent polls showing the American public wants to keep funding expanded Medicaid.

A majority of Americans, in fact, say it is important to keep federal funding for an expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor under Obamacare, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll  released in late February.

The poll found that 84 percent of respondents said it was important that federal support for the expansion remain in place. Another poll released late last month from the Pew Research Center also found that support for Obamacare had reached a new high, with 54 percent saying they approved of the law.  

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