A top White House official said Sunday “we’re getting close” to having the votes needed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, President Trump’s director of legislative affairs Marc Short said a vote could take place soon after the July 4 recess.
“We are at the point of scoring two separate bills throughout the course of this recess this week,” Short said. “So, we hope that we come back the week after recess, we’ll have a vote.”
He added that if Republicans find that the “replacement part too difficult for the pulpits to come together” that they should still move ahead with repealing Obamacare and come up with a replacement later. Both approaches contradict what President Donald Trump said on the campaign trail when he vowed “insurance for everybody” and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s promise that no one would lose coverage.
Short also suggested that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s credibility “should be certainly questioned” regarding its projection that 22 million people would be left uninsured within the decade because of the GOP bill, echoing what the White House previously claimed.
“They reported what CBO says but the CBO credibility should be certainly — should be questioned at this point,” Short said. “Seven million of those people are people that don’t exist. They’re people that is based upon a baseline that CBO put out in 2014, even though the actual number is way down here.”
“There’s another 7 million people they say will choose to leave the market that they say are losing insurance. That’s not losing, that’s choosing,” he added.
Trump’s administration has disputed the CBO projections, claiming a partisan bias towards Democrats. But Republican and Democratic experts have soundly rejected any bias, with the Washington Post pointing out that it is particularly difficult to forecast what could happen in individual states. For example, the CBO scoring for Obamcare was off in part because the Supreme Court made it optional for states to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. As a result, fewer people received coverage after some Republican officials chose not to expand Medicaid in their states.
But Short is also wrong that people choose, rather than lose their plans. There is no guarantee that repealing Obamacare would later include a replacement plan. Under a 2016 GOP draft of just repealing Obamacare without a replacement plan, it was estimated that roughly 19 million people could lose Medicaid. In the current Senate repeal-and-replace version of the health care bill, upwards of 15 million people could lose Medicaid coverage.