One of the items that were missing last week as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was marked up in the House Energy & Commerce and Ways and Means committees was a “SCORE” from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
A “SCORE” is the official prediction and estimate that members of congress, both Republican and Democrat, are supposed to use when they consider a piece of legislation.
On the Democratic side, there were several arguments that the CBO score was not available. In fact, there were a couple of motions to table consideration of the AHCA until a report from CBO was available. Those motions did not have enough support to even be voted on.
The Republicans, however, do not trust CBO predictions and consider them unreliable.
The Congressional Budget Office is the, alleged, bi-partisan arm of congress who’s job is to predict what economic affect a bill could have on the nation if it became a law. Unfortunately, the numbers that come from CBO are as dependable as a monkey throwing darts. They are constantly being revised, “after the fact” and even then are often incorrect.
For example, it was CBO who said, in 2010, that over 21 million Americans would enroll through the Health exchanges during the first year of Obamacare. In 2013, after Obamacare became law, CBO revised their estimate upwards. They predicted that by 2016 22 million Americans would have used health insurance exchangesas a result of Obamacare. However, they missed their estimate drastically. When HHS released the actual numbers, it showed that fewer than 11 million Americans had used the exchanges to get their government mandated health insurance.
In a nation with a population of more than 325 million people, that means that all of this debate is for less than 4% of the population. It is also an indication that CBO predictions cannot be relied on.
While I was watching the mark-ups in 2009, several times facts were asked for from CBO and I noticed something about CBO in 2009. Even though CBO is supposed to be bi-partisan and non-biased, it is (at least it was in 2009) definitely biased towards the left of center.
It is very possible that CBO is now a politically neutral organization, but in light of the obvious liberal leanings of CBO in 2009, I do not blame the House Republican leadership for advancing the AHCA without a CBO SCORE. Their actions eliminated a source for argument in the sub-committees of the House who report to the House Budget Committee.
The House Budget Committee got the report from CBO yesterday afternoon. It had mixed predictions.
On one hand the CBO report estimated that over 22 million Americans would lose health insurance as a result of the AHCA. Republicans point out that, in their opinion, CBO is again showing a liberal bias and forgot to include the impact of a provision in the AHCA that “grandfathers” people who currently have coverage through Medicaid.
The AHCA would grant those who currently have health insurance the ability to keep coverage, but not the same amount of subsidy from the government as they are now getting. If they lost coverage, it would be because they refused to pay the premiums required by the health insurance company, just like you and I do.
If an individual were to lapse their health insurance policy in the future and then wanted to obtain coverage in the future, they would then be subject to medical underwriting. If they are insurable, they can get the same health insurance as anyone else at the same premium as everyone else pay.
However, if an individual elects to remain uninsured and “game” the system by enrolling in a guaranteed issue health insurance plan only after a serious medical issue has been diagnosed, that individual could still get health insurance but it would be through a state-based “high-risk pool” where they would be required to pay 130% of the premium that they would have paid had they kept their “grandfathered” plan.
On the other hand, the CBO report estimates that if the AHCA becomes law, it will have a positive impact on the national budget and save $325 billion each year.
Americans will have to wait until the House Budget Committee meets on Wednesday to know if the findings of CBO will have any affect on the AHCA.
The bottom line is that if you hear any arguments that the Republicans are trying to push through legislation without input from the CBO, ignore them. The media/people spreading those rumors are merely trying to justify their own biases. The ones who are required to make a final decision about the AHCA will have access to CBO reports before they vote. The question is if the estimates from that office can be trusted.
Heaven only knows, at this time, if the report from CBO is going to make any difference for this round of Health Care Reform. What I do know is that March 30 is the very last day one can lock in lower premiums and benefits for all of 2017 by using STM plans.
If you live in Texas, use the form below to see if you qualify for a lower cost STM health insurance plan.