Health Care

The Department of Health and Human Services Just Released a Fake Score of the Cruz Amendment

Republicans aren’t giving up on jamming TrumpCare through the Senate, even though enough Senators have said publicly they don’t support the Senate TrumpCare bill or a full repeal bill. Today, we got more evidence of Republican desperation.

The new “score” of the Cruz Amendment

Ted Cruz thought the Senate TrumpCare bill wasn’t conservative enough for him, and so he proposed an amendment to drag the bill even further to the extreme conservative side. It would allow insurance companies to sell plans without any of the Affordable Care Act’s protections—like essential health benefits and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

This proposal was met with nearly across-the-board criticism, including from insurance companies themselves. They said it would be a disaster for insurance markets and for patients. Nevertheless, Republicans asked the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan experts that analyze legislation, to evaluate the amendment. That CBO score isn’t yet available, and CBO is reportedly having difficulty scoring it because of the conflicting information they’ve gotten from Ted Cruz’s office.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ fake score

Nevertheless, Cruz took the unprecedented step of asking the Department of Health and Human Services to produce a competing score. This is like being the judge in your own pie contest, and deciding your pie (made with secret ingredients using a secret recipe) is the best. Shock of all shocks, they had no difficulty scoring it. And shock of all shocks, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claims the Cruz amendment boosts enrollment and lowers premiums (and the whole Indivisible Team shoots nothing but three-pointers on the basketball court!).

The “score” is riddled with problems that were obvious to health experts almost as soon as it came out. First, HHS hid all of their economic assumptions. Knowing these is key to understanding how they got their results, because it includes information on how they expect people to react to higher healthcare costs or lower quality plans.

Second, these so-called “plans” with lower premiums and higher enrollment have deductibles of $12,000. That can barely be called health insurance, and it’s ridiculous to assume people would pay any amount of premiums for that level of coverage.

Third, the assumptions they did reveal are pretty brazen. For example, they assumed enough insurance companies would participate to make a competitive marketplace and that all states would suddenly adopt low insurance standards. They also compared the impact of the amendment to current law, completely ignoring the existence of the bill Cruz is amending. You know, the one kicking 22 million off their insurance.

Tom Price is the head of HHS. He works for Donald Trump. He’s also lied repeatedly about healthcare.

Tom Price has not told the truth about the TrumpCare bill. He said there are no cuts to Medicaid, but we know TrumpCare destroys Medicaid as we know it. He said the Administration wouldn’t sabotage the Affordable Care Act, but we know he is deliberately creating uncertainty for insurance companies—so much so that some are leaving the marketplace.

Tom Price works for Donald Trump. He is not an impartial referee—that’s a role the nonpartisan experts at the Congressional Budget Office play. There is no way this bogus score should be used to put the Cruz Amendment in anything—except for maybe a shredder.