Trumpcare advocates lie their way through the Sunday political shows

The misinformation campaign is rather stunning.

CREDIT: CNN/Screenshot
CREDIT: CNN/Screenshot

Days after the House passed a newly-amended American Health Care Act, its biggest proponents took to the Sunday morning political shows to defend it — by blatantly lying about what the bill does.

Because the House passed the bill without waiting for a new scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, the shows’ anchors had no choice but to litigate the effect of the legislation based on the old numbers from March. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called any concern that the bill was passed without a final CBO score a “bogus attack from the left,” insisting that the final amendment “was only three pages long.”

Even though those three pages had a significant enough outcome to sway the Freedom Caucus to change their votes from before — and even though Ryan was the one attacking Democrats for passing Obamacare without a final CBO score — Ryan claimed it didn’t matter that Trumpcare passed without a new assessment.

During his interview with ABC’s This Week, Ryan also insisted, “under this bill, no matter what, you cannot be denied coverage if you have a preexisting condition.” In reality, the latest version of Trumpcare has even weaker preexisting condition protections than the version that the CBO scored.


This version allows states to opt-out of Obamacare’s prohibition against insurers charging those with preexisting conditions higher rates, and to shuffle these people into “high-risk pools.” In the past, high-risk pools often offered skimpy coverage at exorbitant rates — if coverage was available at all, as there were often long waiting lists. Ryan ignored this concern, insisting people will be fine so long as they have continuous coverage.

Over on Fox News Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was spreading the same misinformation about preexisting conditions. Like Ryan, he downplayed the number of people who would be impacted, pointing out it wouldn’t affect preexisting conditions for employer-based insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or anyone with continuous coverage. “Let’s assume that there are some people who might not have continuous coverage,” Priebus said, before host Chris Wallace interrupted to highlight that it’s not just “some people,” but in fact millions of people.

Priebus insisted that the $8 billion the bill supplies for high-risk pools will help keep down the costs for those people with preexisting conditions, but an analysis from the Center for American Progress found that the $8 billion will only subsidize 76,000 more people. In reality, the bill is short about $200 billion, meaning the $8 billion is just a drop in the bucket and the high-risk pools are likely to be overburdened and underfunded as they were before.

On this point, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price even admitted Friday his belief that people with preexisting conditions should, in fact, pay more for insurance, but that’s actually not what he talked about Sunday morning.


In his interviews on both NBC’s Meet The Press and CNN’s State of the Union, Price defended the way Trumpcare cuts some $880 billion from Medicaid, at least according to the CBO score from a previous version of the bill. This cut was one of the primary contributors to the CBO’s conclusion that 14 million people would lose their coverage by next year. Price tried to downplay the cut by suggesting it was somehow not a cut, adding that he believes it will correct the problem of many doctors not accepting Medicaid. On CNN, Jake Tapper countered that the primary reason some doctors don’t accept Medicaid is because it doesn’t reimburse them enough, asking Price how less money will help reimburse doctors more.

Price insisted that the proposed system will allow “greater flexibility so that more resources could be put to the seniors and disabled and appropriate resources could be put to the healthy moms and kids in a medicaid system.” He did not explain how less money will create more flexibility, and he later claimed again — falsely — that “there are no cuts to the Medicaid program.”

Given how much time these Trumpcare advocates spent denying what Trumpcare would do and lying about things it doesn’t do, very little of their discussions spoke truthfully to what the bill actually would do. Coincidentally, many House Republicans admitted they didn’t read the bill before voting for it on Thursday.