Yesterday, the CBO released their updated score of the GOP’s American Healthcare Act.
NOTE: The CBO’s score was updated to include an analysis of the MacArthur amendment, you can read up on it here. I’ve already done a 3-part analysis of the original iteration of the bill here, here, and here. My criticisms of the original bill are (in my view) still valid, as the MacArthur amendment didn’t change many of the existing aspects of the bill. It’s also important because Rep. Davis supported both the original and amended versions of the bill.
As I’ll go into, the CBO score does not paint a pretty picture. 23 million more americans without insurance, 14 million in the next year alone. Medicaid gutted by 830 billion dollars. Massive tax cuts for insurance companies and the wealthy. People with pre-existing conditions/serious illnesses priced out of the market. The list goes on. In my view, no thinking person could come away from a reading of the CBO’s analysis with anything positive to say about it.
Nobody but our congressman, Rodney Davis that is.
Yesterday, Davis released a statement extolling the virtues of the bill and, bizarrely, cited the CBO score as proof positive of said virtues. (NOTE: Rep. Davis previously dismissed the CBO’s initial report, but now that it’s worse he apparently believes it to be legitimate….I’m as confused as you are)
It appears Rep. Davis and I (along with almost every reputable news outlet, healthcare expert, or healthcare/patient advocacy group in the country) read two very different reports. In his statement, Davis fails to include important qualifiers, ignores context, and outright fabricates claims made in the CBO’s report.
First, Rep. Davis selectively boasts about a claim made on the CBO score regarding insurance premiums:
- Lowers premiums by 4 to 30 percent.
What the CBO actually says is that the AHCA would increase premiums before 2020 by “an average of about 20 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019.” After 2020, “some” states may see premiums decrease by 4 percent if they don’t apply for a waiver. If states apply for a waiver, they MAY see premium decreases of 20%. So after rising by 20-25%, they might fall by 5-20%. You do the math on this one.
However, the CBO also has this to say about the premium decreases:
“average premiums for insurance purchased individually—that is, nongroup insurance—would be lower, in part because the insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs.”
I wonder why Davis left those parts out?
On to Davis’s next statement, in which he gives us a peek into the fantasyland he resides in:
- Increases choices for consumers, creating a vibrant market where people will have more freedom and flexibility to get the plan they want.
This is quite literally mumbo-jumbo. At no point in the CBO’s analysis do they say anything even remotely close to this. I think Davis believes if he just says “choices” and “freedom” enough times nobody will notice that he voted for a bill he literally doesn’t understand.
Then Davis performs linguistic acrobatics to try and paint an 880 billion dollar cut to medicaid as a positive:
- Makes major entitlement reform, capping Medicaid spending for the first time, saving taxpayers over $800 billion.
I discussed this at length in part 2 of my analysis of the original bill. Medicaid’s funding will be cut by 830 billion dollars. Illinois, who as we all know is already struggling to balance its budget, will see a 40 billion dollar reduction in funding. A study by the Center for American Progress expects 700,000 people in Illinois will lose coverage as a result. These massive cuts leave states with 1 of 4 choices. Reduce the number of people covered, reduce benefit coverage, pay less for those benefits, or ask beneficiaries to pay more. These are the only real ways for states to cut Medicaid spending by the amount required to make up for the decrease in federal funding. Hiding this behind misleading language like “saving taxpayers X amount” is disgusting.
Davis then makes sure we’re aware of all the money we the taxpayers will be saving thanks to this bill, just in case you weren’t absolutely sure where Davis’s priorities lie:
- Lowers taxes by nearly $1 trillion, providing massive tax relief for middle-income Americans and small business owners.
Unfortunately, unless you’re an insurance company, or in the top 1-2% of earners, you won’t be receiving much, if any of that relief, as numerous analyses have shown.
- Reduces the federal deficit by $119 billion.
Do you want to guess what 119 billion over the next decade amounts to as a percentage of our annual federal budget?
That may not seem like a lot, and that’s because it isn’t. It’s an especially small amount when you factor in everything Rep. Davis leaves out of his summary of the CBO’s score, namely:
23 Million people will lose insurance, adding to 29 Million that are currently uninsured. 14 Million will be newly uninsured next year alone.
States that request a waiver will see the premiums for their low-income elderly enrollees rise by over 800%
People with pre-existing conditions will likely be priced out of the market. The CBO takes special care to call this out:
“People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs.”
So we have a bill that lavishes tax cuts on the wealthy, shaves a minuscule amount off of our federal budget, kicks millions of people off of their insurance, and leaves those that remain with a more expensive system that covers less. Congressman Davis brags about how much this bill saves, but seems to ignore how much it will truly cost.
Ultimately, the CBO’s report and Congressman Davis’s summary of the CBO’s report seem to exist in two separate realities. The CBO’s report exists here with us in the real world, where the sky is blue and 2+2=4. Congressman Davis’s summary of the CBO’s report exists in an alternate reality, where the sky is 4 and 2+2=red.
Either Congressman Davis didn’t take the time to fully understand the CBO’s report, or he did and is intentionally leaving out significant portions of their analysis to further his agenda. Option A tells us that Rep. Davis is ignorant and uncaring when it comes to legislation that will affect tens of thousands of his constituents. Option B tells us Congressman Davis is a representative who is willfully misleading the people he’s supposed to represent. I intend to ask Rep. Davis which is the more accurate descriptor during his open office hours next week in Champaign.
If you’d like to ask him a similar question, he’ll be at his offices (2004 Fox Drive) from 1-3pm next Friday.