Healthcare Reform, the Congressional Budget Office and the Media

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimates of what would happen should the proposed Republican healthcare reform bill become law.   With dramatic changes included in the bill, the impacts are projected to be significant (more on that below).

As the bill moves through the House of Representatives, changes are still being made to improve the bill and to get votes of those currently undecided in order to get the bill passed in the House and moved on to the Senate for debate.  Unfortunately, Democrats have solidly refused to consider any bill that replaces Obamacare.  One would have hoped that finding areas where compromises could be reached would put healthcare reform forward on a more broad and bipartisan basis but the Democratic caucus as a whole group has apparently decided that the problems with Obamacare aren’t that serious and they won’t even participate in finding a better plan and will just oppose anything that replaces it.

After seeing CBO estimates of the impact of insurance costs to older Americans, one of the compromises House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed to increase the tax credits for lower income individuals as they age.  This seems to be a reasonable response, given that medical costs obviously increase as we age and so the impact on low income older adults is greater.

The bill is scheduled to come up for a vote in the full House of Representatives on Thursday and President Trump has told lawmakers that this is a test of their promises to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a better system.


As a related note on this issue…if there is a question of media bias, here would be two items that would reinforce that perception:

  • the CBO has projected the millions of people will no longer have health insurance under the proposed plan and this has been the most publicized part of the CBO report.  But didn’t Republicans campaign against Obamacare in large part because they opposed mandatory insurance coverage with mandated benefits or being fined by the IRS?  So if they were going to make insurance coverage voluntary instead of mandatory, by definition doesn’t that mean that fewer people will buy it?  Call me crazy….
  • The same CBO report has projected that the proposed plan will save $1 Trillion over 10 years (that’s ‘trillion’ with a ‘T’).  We haven’t heard nearly as much, if any from some media outlets, about that part of the CBO report yet that is a huge sum of money that would be saved for taxpayers.

The media reports as the big news that fewer people will have insurance coverage, though that’s exactly what we knew would happen when the requirement was abolished to have insurance or pay a fine to the IRS.  But by comparison almost negligible coverage on the $1 Trillion in savings, which amounts to about $286/year for every man, woman and child in the country, or over $1100 for a family of four.

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