Republican Efforts to Skip Having their Healthcare Bill Analyzed for its Real World Impact

Republican Efforts to Skip Having their Healthcare Bill Analyzed for its Real World Impact

The Republican party is said to have their replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka ready to roll, yet the bill is not being shown to anyone – as you may have heard Senator Rand Paul went roaming about the capitol last week, printer in tow, looking for the bill (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/03/02/democrats-sen-paul-go-hunt-secret-aca-repeal-bill/98640752/?link_id=11&can_id=db8d1681717e17e95e956e4b8b333f7e&source=email-indivisible-leaders-saturday-morning-weekly-update-34-4&email_referrer=indivisible-leaders-saturday-morning-weekly-update-34-4&email_subject=indivisible-leaders-saturday-morning-weekly-update-34). One can argue this is gamesmanship on both sides of the aisle, with one side being more amusing than the other. But beneath this gamesmanship is a genuine and serious issue – namely that at present the Republican position is to introduce and probably vote on the bill before the Congressional Budget Office scores the bill (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-01/republicans-hide-latest-obamacare-draft-under-shroud-of-secrecy). So why is this important?

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was established in 1975 and is an independent, non partisan office that specializes in the analysis of facts and objectively provides, “independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process. Each year, the agency’s economists and budget analysts produce dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates for proposed legislation…. [the] CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate summarizes the methodology underlying the analysis” (https://www.cbo.gov/about/overview). A quick note on terminology, the analysis of the CBO is termed scoring. Phrased another way the CBO is the accountant/financial planner for Congress, they don’t weigh in on how you spend your money but they tell you the impact spending your money has.

One can search the CBO website by topic and I encourage you to do so, it is a treasure trove of information. Here is a link: https://www.cbo.gov/topics/health-care to reports issued by the CBO on the ACA. An analysis of the 2015 Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which would have repealed portions of the ACA showed that the repeals within that bill (which one can assume are somewhat similar to the repeals in this current Republican bill) would increase the number of uninsured Americans to 18 million peoples in the first year after repeal, then the number would increase to 27 million and be at 32 million by 2026. The analysis also states that insurance premiums in the private market would increase 20 – 25 % in the first year, reach a 50% increase and then hit a 100% (i.e. have doubled) by 2026 (https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52371).

As this shows, it is imperative to know the analysis of the CBO before voting on a bill – it is akin to buying a house without knowing what the mortgage payment will be. Yet the Republican Party believes that it is appropriate to move towards voting on a new healthcare bill without having the CBO analyze it. Speaker Paul Ryan stated that their behaviors were just business as usual, that “the bill is being handled under normal legislative procedures” and “we’re not hatching some bill in a backroom and plopping it on the American people’s front door,” (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-01/republicans-hide-latest-obamacare-draft-under-shroud-of-secrecy). I would argue that is exactly what they are doing.

And so, the request to Rep. Hunter is to slow down and wait to vote on this bill until the CBO has analyzed (provided a score) for the bill. Until we know the fiscal and real world impact of this bill it should not be voted on.

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