The Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act — showing that as many as 24 million people could lose health insurance, Medicaid would be drastically cut and older, poorer Americans would suffer the most — leaves us with a number of questions:
Why did House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) force votes in two committees and then spring the disturbing CBO score, revealing that members voted rashly (not knowing the effects) or don’t care about loss of coverage and regressive consequences? Perhaps he is so convinced that his members will vote for anything that he made no effort to spare them from votes they one day (Election Day 2018, for example, and especially in districts Hillary Clinton carried) will regret. It is far from clear what he thought he was going to “get away with.” Unlike President Trump, he cannot merely dismiss inconvenient facts and plunge forward. Well, he can, but he puts his members’ seats and his own speakership at risk.
What’s the point of passing something so obviously unacceptable to the Senate? Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) blasted the effort: “The CBO estimate that millions of Americans could lose their health insurance coverage if the House bill were to become law is cause for alarm. It should prompt the House to slow down and reconsider certain provisions of the bill.” Her colleague and Trump supporter Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) echoed Sen. Tom Cotton’s advice on Sunday to “get this right.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) argued, “[L]et’s say the CBO is half-right. That should be cause for concern. So, rather than attacking the CBO as the exclusive way of moving forward, I would think the prudent thing for the party to do is to look at the CBO report and see if we can address some of the concerns raised.” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) scoffedat the notion the bill would really save money. “Society is going to pay for health care whether it’s through insurance or not,” he remarked.