After CBO, what’s next on GOP health care plan in Congress

Now that the Congressional Budget Office has weighed in on a House-passed GOP health care bill, Republicans must still do a lot of work to not only forge a plan in the Senate, but also figure out how to get it to the President’s desk for his signature.

The CBO report found the revised GOP plan, which was approved earlier this month, would save $119 billion over ten years, and would result in 23 million fewer people having health insurance by 2026, than under Obamacare.

The report also raised questions about coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and found that low income Americans between ages 50 to 64 would be hit with large price hikes.

Here’s where we stand on GOP efforts to overhaul the Obama health law:

1. Senate Republicans still searching for a deal. The CBO score didn’t change anything for Republicans, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that he’s still looking for fifty votes to advance a health care plan in the Senate. GOP Senators have been talking regularly behind closed doors, floating a variety of plans, but they don’t seem to be near an agreement. Complicating matters is that Republicans can only lose two votes and keep things on track.

2. For now, it’s only Republicans at the table. While there have been some bipartisan meetings, the official GOP effort is not reaching across the aisle on health care. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has made that clear that he is not interested in bringing Democrats aboard to cut a health care deal, arguing that they won’t even acknowledge the problems that exist in Obamacare right now. Again, with such a small margin for error, not having any Democratic votes make life difficult for the GOP.

3. There still is the option of not passing anything. Senate GOP leaders have indicated to reporters that a vote will occur in coming months, even if that plan gets rejected by the Senate. That could result in something that President Trump had floated months ago, just letting troubles mount in the Obamacare system until it creates enough blowback from the public to force action in the Congress. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) yesterday raised that as a possibility.

4. It’s easier to be against than for something on health care. Democrats have been much more organized in recent weeks in terms of arguing against GOP plans, while Republicans have struggled to forge a unified public message for their health care overhaul effort. It is the exact opposite of where we were for the last seven years, when Republicans were the ones taking pot shots at the Obama health law, and Democrats were acting skittish. And even the poll numbers have flipped as well – this is a Fox News poll:

5. $1,000 a month for maternity coverage? In its report, the Congressional Budget Office said if states decide to allow for lower cost plans that have less coverage, then people should expect extras, like maternity coverage, would not be cheap. “Insurers would expect most purchasers to use the benefits and would therefore price that rider at close to the average cost of maternity coverage, which could be more than $1,000 per month,” the CBO wrote. Let’s just say that example didn’t play too well with female Democrats in the Congress

6. Who are the 23 million more who won’t have coverage?This is an interesting figure from the CBO, because it is immediately challenged by opponents of Obamacare, who argue that people should have the right to *not* buy health insurance, and that most of those going without insurance will fall into that category. But that’s not what the CBO found. The report says 14 million people who are currently covered by Medicaid would go uninsured – presumably because they couldn’t afford insurance. Another six million would stop having coverage with changes in the state and federal exchanges.

7. Will health care derail a GOP seat in Montana? A few hours after the CBO report was issued on the House-passed health plan, the story turned into a WWE event, as a reporter claimed a Montana Republican candidate for Congress body slammed him after being asked about the CBO numbers. We’ll see if the dispute causes any aftershocks at the polls in the Big Sky State tonight.

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