Short was specifically highlighting a 7 million difference in the projections for 2018. In its March 2016 baseline, CBO projected that under current law, 18 million people would have Obamacare marketplace insurance coverage in 2018. Under the updated January 2017 baseline, however, that figure for the same year dropped to 11 million.
It’s reasonable to say the differences between the 2016 and 2017 baseline estimates are significant enough that if the CBO had used the newer baseline, its score of the Senate health care bill might have been different.
And — this is Short’s larger point — it’s plausible that if CBO had used the newer baseline, it would have a lower estimate than 22 million for the total drop in coverage by 2026.
But it wouldn’t necessarily be 7 million fewer, as Short’s statement implied. It’s a mistake to equate projections for marketplace coverage under current law with the potential impact of the Senate health care bill on that enrollment, experts told us.
“Short is correct that the numbers might look more favorable for the bill if the CBO had used the most recent baseline available, but it isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison,” said Timothy Callaghan, a health policy professor at Texas A&M University.
Experts also told us Short’s claim is misleading because even if CBO used the newer baseline to score the Senate health bill, insurance coverage would still drop by many millions. It also ignores the fact that the majority of coverage loss under the Senate bill would be due to changes in Medicaid, the government health insurance program for poor Americans that Obamacare expanded.
CBO predicted Medicaid coverage would go down by 15 million, while Obamacare marketplace coverage would go down by 7 million.
We should note that the CBO report said the analysts decided to use the March 2016 baseline instead of the 2017 based on its consultations with the congressional budget committees.
It is plausible that CBO overestimated the drop in health care coverage under the Senate proposed replacement for Obamacare because it based its estimates on data from 2016 rather than 2017. But to say the projection was off by 7 million is an oversimplification. Until CBO redoes its analysis with the more recent data, we may not know how exactly its projections change.
We rate his statement Half True.
7 million people the Congressional Budget Office says won’t have health insurance coverage under the Senate health care bill “don’t exist.”
— White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 in an episode of “Fox News Sunday”