House Republican leaders doubled down on their defense of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the bill proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to replace Obamacare, despite Congressional Budget Office scoring that said 14 million would almost immediately be uninsured.
“I recognize and appreciate concerns about making sure people have access to coverage. Under Obamacare, we have seen how government-mandated coverage does not equal access to care, and now the law is collapsing,” said Ryan.
“Our plan is not about forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage. It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford. When people have more choices, costs go down. That’s what this report shows. And as we have long said, there will be a stable transition so that no one has the rug pulled out from under them,” he said.
The CBO report, which predicted that 14 million would be uninsured by 2018, 21 million by 2020, and 24 million by 2026, provided new fodder for Democrats, who took to Twitter to slam the bill.
But Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) pointed out that “a chunk” of those who would lose insurance are people who will decide not to buy insurance due to the elimination of the individual mandate under Obamacare, which required people to buy insurance.
“Per CBO a chunk of those uninsured people will be those who will decide not to buy insurance due to elimination of individual mandate,” he tweeted.
Nonetheless, Democrats seized on the figures of predicted uninsured Americans and called the bill a “disaster” and “unconscionable.”
“Initial take: Inhumane, mean spirited,” tweeted Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).
House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-TN) said the “goal has always been to provide access to health insurance for everyone who wants it,” and that there would be people who choose not to have health care coverage.
“Dismantling the individual mandate gives Americans the freedom to make choices for themselves, even if that choice is to not have health care coverage. We believe and are committed to the idea that the American people are best suited to make decisions about their own lives,” she said in a statement.
The CBO report also said the Obamacare repeal bill would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion.
Black also said the report confirms that the bill will lower premiums by 10 percent by 2026, and provide $863 billion in tax relief for Americans and small business owners.
“We look forward to acting on it in the House Budget Committee this week,” she said.
Ryan said the report did not take into consideration “additional steps” Congress and the Trump administration will take to further lower costs and increase choices.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) echoed those sentiments.
“The Congressional Budget Office has not yet analyzed our entire proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, and today’s score reflects only a portion of the actions we will take to roll back red tape, free markets, and empower consumers,” he said.
“Unlike Obamacare, we will not mandate Americans buy insurance plans they don’t want and can’t afford. Instead, we are working to create a system that gives all Americans access to affordable care and the ability to make the decisions that are right for their families,” he said.