As if the President wasn’t applying enough pressure on his fellow Republicans to produce passable legislation on the healthcare bill, today came the announcement of a recent poll conducted for a non-profit GOP political group called the American Action Network, which was just published by the Washington Post which stated the following:
- 70% of respondents support repeal of Obamacare with a “modest transition period,” during which people will retain their coverage until a new law is enacted.
- 32.1% – primarily Democrats – agreed a repeal would “make America sick again;” 64.8% of independents disagreed, as well as 85.9% of Republicans.
- 54.1% are in favor of a complete repeal or to major changes in the ACA, this figure (54.1%) included 61.6% of independents and 17.6% of Democrats.
- Voters would support repeal of Obamacare by a margin of 68.9% to 25.2% – if disruptions were avoided.
- Voters across the board want Republicans to keep the pre-existing conditions prohibition of denial of coverage, as well as allowing children up to age 26 to remain on their parent’s insurance policy.
As polls go this one is the farthest apart from other recent polls, in particular the recent Gallup poll that says that 55% of Americans favor Obamacare now. Just how much weight the American Action Network poll will be given by Republicans who may be seeking an excuse to cave into the mounting pressure they are feeling on living up to their campaign promises of replace and repeal even though they have major issues with the revised bill. One thing for certain the latest CBO report will be of no comfort to those seeking a reason to vote yes.
What The Non-Partisan CBO Report Said About The GOP Bill
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also released their latest analysis of the GOP healthcare plan saying it would increase the number of uninsured Americans to 22 million people over the coming decade (by end of 2026). The CBO estimates that by 2026, 82% of all Americans under age 65 will be insured compared to 90% if the ACA remains intact.
Under the GOP plan, premium costs would increase by 20% in 2018 and an estimated 10% in 2019; increases are said necessary to re-stabilize the insurance industry due to the (proposed) repeal of the ACA, but that premium rates would be reduced by 30% in 2020.
The federal deficit would be reduced by $420 billion over the 2017 – 2026 time periods, according to the CBO. The CBO and JCT methodology used to estimate the reduction of the deficit in the GOP’s previous version of the bill primarily applies to this latest version as well. The reduction of the deficit is the result of the bill’s $903 billion reduction in direct spending which is offset by a $483 billion loss in revenues for a total net reduction of the deficit by $420 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added an additional $70 billion in funding slated to help stabilize the existing insurance markets in hopes of improving the long-term effects of the healthcare plan (reducing premium cost). However, McConnell also reduced by $70 billion the amount of funding for the pre-existing conditions pool slated to go to individual states.
The latest revised version of the bill does not contain any proposed changes from Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, therefore none of the Cruz provisions were analyzed by the CBO for it’s report at this time.
How Accurate Is The CBO?
With each CBO report on the GOP proposed healthcare plan(s) repealing Obamacare there have been rumblings from Republicans on the accuracy of the CBO historically, specifically citing errors in their predictions on the ACA.
As an example, Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget brought up the CBO’s prediction record on Obamacare and/or his view of the CBO’s inability to assess large bodies of legislation such as the ACA, pointing specifically to the CBO’s prediction as to how many people would purchase health insurance through the healthcare exchanges.
Mulvaney did have a point, the CBO projected that by the end of 2016 more than 21 million people would buy healthcare insurance through the exchanges. The actual figure turned out to be a bit over 11.5 million individuals that had signed up for health insurance coverage for 2017. However, in their defense the CBO could not have taken into account the Supreme Court’s ruling that the states would be allowed to decide for themselves whether to expand Medicaid or not, which did have a measurable impact on the ACA enrollment numbers, hence skewing the CBO’s projections.
What the CBO did get right was their prediction on the reduction of Americans without healthcare coverage, predicting a historically low rate of uninsured Americans and in that respect the CBO was accurate in their prediction. Another factor the CBO hadn’t anticipated was the lack luster enrollment numbers by employers on the exchanges. The CBO had expected employers would drop insurance plans from the private sector in favor of the plans offered from the exchanges. That didn’t happen.
What should be noted is that the CBO adjusted their projection this year of how many people would purchase insurance through the exchanges from the estimated 21 million to 13 million, which is only 1.5 million off the mark. And according to independent institutional and industry peer reviews experts say the CBO provides some of the most accurate estimates, particularly when taking into account the information they had available at the time of their assessment.
An additional factor the Senators should consider, and in defense of the CBO, is that the core group of the CBO routinely reviews their work, learning from their errors and adjusting accordingly. It is widely believed by industry experts that the CBO’s projected estimates on the GOP’s bill(s) will be even more accurate than the projections made of the ACA law.
If the GOP bill were to somehow miraculously or not so miraculously, pass as currently written it is certain to upset millions of American voters all across America who are struggling to have faith in their elected representatives and their promises to deliver better healthcare plans to all Americans that they can use and actually afford.
Where Things Stand With Trumpcare Right Now
If President Trump’s GOP luncheon was successful and he was able to change the minds of Senators who were going to vote to obstruct Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s procedural maneuver the “motion to proceed” then the healthcare bill will make it to the Senate floor where lively debate and hopefully Democratic input can give Americans the hope that the Senate on both sides of the aisle will put their partisanship to the side and come together to craft bipartisan healthcare legislation that all Americans can be proud of.
As of today Americans will have to wait until next Tuesday when Senator Mitch McConnell will call for the vote on the motion to proceed to see if the people of the United States can still have faith in their elected leaders.