Former CBO Chief Denies Protecting Obamacare with Slanted Analysis

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 01: Isabel Diaz Tinoco (L) and Jose Luis Tinoco speak with Otto Hernandez, an insurance agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, as they shop for insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a store setup in the Mall of Americas on November 1, 2017 in …
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Former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Keith Hall on Monday blamed Republicans, not the CBO, for their failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.

Hall, a Republican and the outgoing CBO director, said in an interview with Roll Call that Republicans screwed up their attempts to repeal Obamacare and deflected any criticisms laid at the nonpartisan agency.

The CBO’s generous scoring of Obamacare and critical analysis of any Obamacare repeal proposals such as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), and the Graham-Cassidy block-grant repeal bill, made it difficult for Republicans to muster public support for them to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature law.

The outgoing CBO chief’s interview comes amidst rising Republican interest in health care and as President Donald Trump promised that Republicans will become the party of health care. Trump said that he will preview Republicans’ healthcare plan later in June.

For instance, former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) received nearly universal condemnation after a CBO report found that 14 million Americans would have health insurance the following year and 23 million would lose health insurance by 2026.

In contrast, the CBO gave generous projections to supposed increased enrollment in health insurance if Obamacare were passed. In 2010, the CBO estimated that 21 million would enroll in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges; the projected enrollment figure was closer to ten million.

“If I go back to that referee analogy, it’s a coach screaming at the referees, ‘You blew the game for me,’” Hall said about the complaints related to the health care bill score. “In fact, if you want to blame somebody — I’m on the way out so I can say this — if Congress really wanted to change Obamacare, they’re the ones that blew it with their process, not CBO. We just called it like we saw it.”

The CBO’s most controversial analyses came from the suggestion that repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate would result in roughly 14 million Americans losing their health insurance and that reducing subsidies for low-income Americans to purchase health insurance would also result in millions of Americans with no health insurance.

However, a recent Medicare for and Medicaid Studies (CMS) report found that only 2.5 million people would “lose,” or not purchase health insurance, as the result of Obamacare’s individual mandate repeal.

The CMS even noted that many of the Obamacare enrollees that would choose not to purchase health insurance “are expected to be somewhat younger and healthier than those who retain coverage,” meaning that have less of a need for health insurance than older and sicker Americans.

Hall contended in the Roll Call interview that reducing subsidies for low-income Americans should act as a “no-brainer” that would serve a tricky issue for Republicans.

The outgoing CBO chief said that Republicans did not properly educate the public about their Obamacare proposal.

“There wasn’t much debate; there were no hearings, there was very little discussion about what the details were,” Hall said.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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