The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the GOP healthcare legislation (Trumpcare 2.0/American Health Care Act) late Wednesday, and the numbers are absolutely terrible for Congressional Republicans. Thursday’s front page of the Denver Post summed up the bad news in pretty stark terms, as you can see from the image at right.
Colorado Republicans took a variety of different approaches in response to the CBO score. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — who voted YES on the bill earlier this month — talked about how the AHCA was “just the first step” in a long process of “replacing our flawed healthcare system.” Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), meanwhile, did his best to distance the Senate from the House healthcare bill altogether.
And then there’s Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), also a YES vote on the latest bill, who took a decidedly different approach in responding to the CBO score. Tipton’s full statement is remarkably obtuse, but his argument boils down to this: Tipton doesn’t believe the CBO score is accurate.
This is a completely illogical response, but since Tipton voted in favor of Trumpcare 2.0 before he even knew the impact of the bill, he doesn’t really have anything else to say in his defense:
“The CBO has a long history of making inaccurate predictions about the ACA and has acknowledged that its 2016 baseline measurement of the number of people insured was off by at least 5 million. Despite missing the mark, the CBO has used the inaccurate 2016 baseline as the measuring stick for coverage under the AHCA.”
Tipton says the CBO might have been off by “at least 5 million” people in its 2016 baseline measurement of uninsured Americans, which implies that the CBO score on the AHCA (Trumpcare 2.0) is mathematically inaccurate. Even if Tipton’s math is correct here, that still means at least 18 million more people would lose health coverage under Trumpcare 2.0 compared to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“Additionally, the CBO cannot predict the decisions individuals will make when they are no longer forced by the federal government to buy an insurance product they don’t want.”
The Congressional Budget Office cannot predict the future, therefore it is worthless. This particular sentence does not end up making more sense if you re-read it again and again (trust us — we tried).
“As the House has worked towards repealing and replacing the ACA, my focus has been on the cost of health care, because measuring success by the number of people who are insured doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when most of these people can’t afford to use their insurance.”
This is dumb. The corollary here is that it makes more sense to measure the number of people who might end up with health insurance that is cheaper but doesn’t actually cover anything. You can also buy a used car for a couple hundred bucks; you won’t be able to start the engine, but look at how much money you saved!
“The AHCA is designed to give Coloradans more choice over their insurance plans, affordable premiums and deductibles, and better access to health care services.”
It may very well be true that the AHCA was “designed” to provide more choice in healthcare, more affordable premiums and deductibles, and better access to services. But that’s not what the AHCA actually does, and the CBO score makes this abundantly clear.
As political statements go, this response from Tipton is pretty awful. Tipton would have been better off following Rep. Buck’s lead by calling the AHCA just a “first step” in a longer process. Instead, Tipton decided to “shoot the messenger” — never a good strategy when it’s clear to most everyone else that the “messenger” isn’t the problem.