HHS Sec Price: CBO Got It ‘Wrong’ on GOP Health Bill

price-budget Allison ShelleyGetty
Allison Shelley/Getty

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price and Mike Mulvaney, director of the Office and Management and Budget, disagree with the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment on the cost and other impacts of the GOP’s American Health Care Act, which concludes that as many as 24 million would be uninsured by 2026 under the new law.

“We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out,” Price told reporters at the White House after the CBO score was released.

Price said that the CBO report looked “at a portion of our plan, but not the entire plan,” according to a pooled press report from the White House.

The GOP plan has three parts and the CBO based its reports on the first phase.

Price explained that HHS can employ the “regulatory apparatus” to “make certain that patients are helped and that costs are decreased.”

Price also said CBO ignored other legislative action.

“We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and their family, not that the government forces them to buy,” Price said.

Mulvaney said he had not read the entire CBO report but did find a bright spot.

“The numbers that I’ve seen in the first glance is that CBO says that premiums will go down by at least 10 percent,” Mulvaney said.

A reporter noted that CBO got to that figure by estimating that fewer older Americans would get coverage, but Price said CBO did not take into account the entire for repealing  and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

“The fact of the matter is, we’re working on the regulations right now,” Price said.

Asked about the report’s finding that 14 million more people would be left without insurance next year, Price said it’s “virtually impossible to have that number occur.”

“So CBO is wrong, they are not credible?” a reporter asked.

Price said:

Well, you just look at the numbers. There are 8-9 million people who are on the exchange currently. I’m not sure how they are going to get 14 million people uninsured, if that’s what they say, with only eight million people on the exchange.

They are individuals, I guess that they assume that are on Medicaid who aren’t paying anything in the Medicaid system who are not going to take the Medicaid policy just because the mandate ended or something happened. It’s just not believable is what we would suggest. We’ll look at the numbers and see.

“Without that mandate to buy coverage, wouldn’t you concede there will be millions of uninsured?” a reporter asked.

“No, I wouldn’t concede that at all,” Price said. “The fact of the matter is they are going to be able to a coverage policy that they want for themselves and for their family.

“They are going to have the kind of choices that they want … so we think that CBO simply has it wrong,” Price said.

Mulvaney criticized CBO’s report for assuming Medicaid changes will happen “on day one.”

“It’s just absurd,” Mulvaney said.


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