CBO report on AHCA proves controversial: 8 reactions

Budgetary estimates of the American Health Care Act released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have elicited mixed reactions from the healthcare industry and government officials.

The report found the AHCA would reduce the federal deficit by about $337 billion, but increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million over the next decade.

Here is what people are saying about the CBO's projections.

1. HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, said in a statement: "The CBO report's coverage numbers defy logic." He added, "They project that zeroing out the individual mandate — allowing Americans to choose whether to have insurance — will result in 14 million Americans opting out of coverage in one year. For there to be the reductions in coverage they project in just the first year, they assume 5 million Americans on Medicaid will drop off of health insurance for which they pay very little, and another nine million will stop participating in the individual and employer markets. These types of assumptions do not translate to the real world, and they do not accurately estimate the effects of this bill."

2. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN: "This is exactly what we thought the CBO would come forth with. They are terrible at counting coverage … The CBO is assuming if you get Medicaid, once the mandate is gone, you will give up your free Medicaid and replace it with nothing. The CBO report is full of errors — not errors — they are just bad assumptions like that. It's the only way you can get to these bizarre numbers."

3. Former CBO chief Robert Reischauertold CNN: "They are about as good as anybody could be at putting together estimates. They've also been very transparent about where they are wrong and why they are wrong, but overall it's a very good estimate."

4. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Fox News the CBO report validated the legislation. "We are witnessing the collapse of Obamacare, and what the CBO is telling us is this replacement plan actually stabilizes the situation, brings down costs, and this is stage one of a three stage process to make it even better. That's why I'm encouraged."

5. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in opening remarks at a press conference: "The CBO has reported that the Republican bill pushes 24 million people out of healthcare — off of health coverage. This is a remarkable figure. It speaks so eloquently to the cruelty of the bill that the Speaker [Ryan] calls 'an act of mercy,'" She later added, "The Republicans are confused right now. Some of them say they are discrediting the CBO and others are glorifying pushing off 24 million people from coverage. So I would hope that they pull the bill, it's really the only decent thing to do."

6. Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, R-La., according to Politico, said, "Can't sugarcoat it. Doesn't look good." He added,"The CBO score was, shall we say, an eye-popper."

7. American Medical Association President Andrew Gurman, MD, said in a statement: "Today's estimates from the nonpartisan [CBO] underscore the AMA's concerns about the AHCA as it is written: If this bill were to become law, CBO projects 14 million Americans who have gained coverage in recent years could lose it in 2018. For the AMA, that outcome is unacceptable. While the [ACA] 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."

8. AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement: "The CBO number reinforces our concerns about the importance of maintaining coverage for those vulnerable patients who need it." He added, "As we said in our letter to Congress last week, any changes to the ACA must be guided by ensuring that we continue to provide healthcare coverage for the millions of people who have benefited from the law. We cannot support a bill that the CBO and others clearly indicate would reduce coverage for so many people."

 

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