Speaker Ryan said the CBO score shows his plan accomplishes the mission
Not all Republicans are cheering the CBO's announcement
The release of the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of House Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace Obamacare did little to settle the roiling political debate.
The House GOP bill would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. That figure is similar to the 24 million number from the previous CBO score for legislation pushed by Republicans that was never voted on.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who in coordination with the White House pushed the GOP proposal through his chamber, said the CBO report says the GOP American Health Care Act helps his party achieve their mission.
“We are on a rescue mission to bring down the cost of coverage and make sure families have access to affordable care,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement. “This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit. It is another positive step toward keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
But not all Republicans are happy with the score. The CBO score comes as Senate Republicans are working intensely behind the scenes to craft a compromise bill that can get the 50 votes it would need to pass the chamber, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.
But the first weeks of those talks have not yielded a quick breakthrough, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, acknowledged in an interview with Reuters Wednesday that he is unsure how he will be able to get an agreement.
“I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment,” he said. “But that’s the goal.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana physician, is among those Republicans working on the Senate version of a health care plan.
“Congress’ focus must be to lower premiums with coverage which passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test. The AHCA does not,” Cassidy said, a reference to a now-viral video clip when ABC host Jimmy Kimmel made an emotional plea for coverage of patients with pre-existing conditions following a health care with his child. “I am working with Senate colleagues to do so.”
GOP conservatives and moderates are divided ideologically in the Senate just as they were in the House, where the repeal-and-replace bill squeaked by. They disagree on a broad range of issues, from how many insurance regulations should be required to the size of tax subsidies to make health insurance more affordable for many Americans, and whether to continue the expansion of Medicaid that happened under Obamacare.
GOP senators say they have no firm timetable for moving on a bill.
Democrats quickly highlighted what they see as the consequence of the Republican plan highlighted in the CBO score. Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, said in a statement, “No wonder the Republicans were afraid of the CBO analysis.”
“Trumpcare 2.0 will still force millions of Americans to lose their health insurance, raise premiums, and put critical health care services beyond the reach of hard-working families,” the Illinois Democrat said. “All of this to give a GOP tax cut to the wealthiest.”