CBO report on Obamacare repeal stirs health care battle in Congress


Credit: Jamie Dupree

Credit: Jamie Dupree

The battle over health reform turned up a few more notches on Tuesday, with the release of a new Congressional Budget Office report on a past GOP plan to repeal parts of the Obama health law, as Republicans argued that it didn't take into account any of their ideas to replace Obamacare, while Democrats said the report showed that millions would lose their health coverage.

"This projection is meaningless," said Ashlee Strong, a spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan, as she argued the CBO report "takes into account no measures to replace the law nor actions that the incoming administration will take to revitalize the individual market that has been decimated by Obamacare."

"CBO misses the point," said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). "Obamacare will be replaced with lower costs and more choices."

But coming just days before President-Elect Trump takes the oath of office, Democrats were more than happy to seize on the headlines from the CBO report, painting a dark picture about GOP plans to get rid of the Obama health law, saying that over 30 million people could end up losing health coverage.

"A terrible toll on working American families," said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), one of those Democrats who is boycotting Mr. Trump's Inauguration.

"If Republicans succeed in repealing the ACA, health care costs will explode, Americans in the individual market will see their premiums double by 2026, and the number of uninsured Americans will surge by 18 million in the first year alone and by 32 million by 2026," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

What the CBO looked at was a bill approved by Republicans in 2015, and vetoed by President Obama early in 2016, which would have repealed large chunks of the Obama health law - H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act.

The report also comes a day before testimony by Mr. Trump's pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, as Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has been at the forefront of GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Supporters of Mr. Trump did their own work on social media to push back against the CBO report, with some painting it as fake news.

Whatever you think of the report and its conclusions, the quick firestorm it created is a reminder of just how animated the health care debate will be on Capitol Hill.

Republicans have said they will unveil plans in coming weeks for how best to ensure that millions have health insurance coverage.