White House op-ed: CBO methodology 'fundamentally flawed'

 

The White House is calling the Congressional Budget Office's methodology for estimating the impact of Republican health care legislation "fundamentally flawed" ahead of an upcoming release of a new assessment of the Senate bill.

Marc Short, the White House's director of legislative affairs, and National Economic Counsel aide Brian Blase wrote an op-ed published in The Washington Post calling the CBO's assessment of the bill, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, unreliable.

"In the coming days, the Congressional Budget Office will release an updated analysis of the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare," the op-ed reads. "The CBO will likely predict lower health insurance coverage rates if the bill becomes law. The American people and Congress should give this prediction little weight in assessing the bill's merit."

It continues: "The CBO's methodology, which favors mandates over choice and competition, is fundamentally flawed. As a result, its past predictions regarding health-care legislation have not borne much resemblance to reality. Its prediction about the Senate bill is unlikely to fare much better."

The CBO, a nonpartisan federal agency charged with providing budget and economic information to Congress, could releast the updated assessment as soon as Monday. It reported in June that an earlier version of the Senate health care bill would leave 22 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than would be covered under Obamacare.

The CBO also found the bill would reduce deficits by $321 billion over the next decade.

In the op-ed, Short and Blase argue that the CBO failed to recognize problems that occurred after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

"Today, there are only 10 million people enrolled in exchange plans -- about 60 percent fewer than expected. ... " they write. "Absent the projected bounty of young, healthy consumers, health insurers are abandoning the exchanges, leaving a third of American counties with only one insurer to choose from. As insurers continue to flee the exchanges, consumers will face even fewer options next year. And while choice is declining, costs are skyrocketing. ... The CBO failed to foresee any of this."

The Senate revised its health care legislation this week with the goal of being able to gain support from more conservative lawmakers. The changes include an amendment by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz -- a version of his own overhaul bill -- that would allow insurers offering Obamacare plans to also provide cheaper, bare-bones policies.

The House passed its version of an Obamacare repeal bill in May. That legislation would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act, the CBO said.

Republican leaders have said they want to vote on the bill, or at least to take the procedural steps toward a vote, by next week.