Health Care

Two Truths and a Lie: This Week in CBO Scores


If the flurry of activity on healthcare this week signals anything, it’s that TrumpCare definitely isn’t dead. There’ve been a lot of scores flying around: two conventional scores from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and one unconventional score from the very partisan Trump appointee-run Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The bottom line: both of the CBO scores tell us that TrumpCare will be disastrous. No matter which bill McConnell decides to put to a vote, either option is terrible for the American people. Your Senator should strongly oppose both bills.

The make-believe: HHS is not fit to perform this work and the score is based on secret assumptions meant to make TrumpCare look “less bad.” HHS works for Donald Trump and is not in a position to be impartial. That’s why Congress created CBO in 1975 and why CBO operates without political affiliation.

We untangle each of the scores more below.

1. CBO score on revised Senate TrumpCare

This score came out Thursday, July 20, and analyzed the revised version of McConnell’s TrumpCare bill. This is the original Senate TrumpCare bill with some tax cuts taken out, new health savings account provisions that only benefit the wealthy, and a woefully inadequate pot of extra funding for opioid addiction. Notably, it did NOT include the Ted Cruz amendment, regarding plans that don’t have basic patient protections.

Truth: 22 million Americans lose insurance in order to give tax breaks to corporations. Medicaid is decimated. Premiums increase for older Americans. Deductibles are so high that many people will go without coverage instead of getting insurance. And plans will have fewer protections for consumers.

2. CBO score on ACA repeal without replacement

This score came out Wednesday, July 19 and analyzes legislation that repeals the Affordable Care Act without any replacement. Some people call this strategy “repeal and delay.” McConnell is pushing this bill to make TrumpCare look less bad by comparison. Do not fall for this tactic. Additionally, with this full repeal proposal, McConnell and Trump are trying to bully moderate GOP holdouts into supporting them.

Truth: Full repeal would be EVEN WORSE for the American people. Under full repeal, 32 million people would lose insurance, and premiums would double. Three fourths of the country would live in an area with no options in the individual insurance market by 2026. In short, this would be an absolute catastrophe.

Continue to oppose both versions of TrumpCare. Just because the GOP can dream up more extreme ways to decimate Americans’ healthcare, doesn’t make previous versions of TrumpCare any more supportable. Stand strong against both versions of repeal. Don’t fall for this shot fake.

3. HHS “score” on the Cruz Amendment

This “score” (it isn’t really a score) came out Wednesday, July 19 and purports to analyze Ted Cruz’s amendment which lets insurance companies get out of consumer protections in the individual market and provide fewer services. CBO didn’t include the Cruz Amendment in its most recent score of the revised Senate TrumpCare bill. That’s because they didn’t have enough time or information from Senator Cruz to accurately analyze the proposal.

Lie: The HHS analysis of the Cruz Amendment. This score is bogus and HHS is not a nonpartisan referee. HHS works for President Trump. Their analysis, showing boosted enrollment and lower premiums, is based on secret assumptions. And the assumptions they do disclose are questionable and were immediately criticized by health care experts. Given how faulty this “score” is and who is doing it, it should not get any credibility.

SAMPLE CALL DIALOGUE

TrumpCare is terrible no matter what you call it or who you have score it. Call your Senator today and say just that.

Caller: Hello! My name is [name] and I’m calling from [part of state]. Can you tell me how Senator [  ] plans to vote on the motion to proceed on the health care bill?

Staffer: The Senator hasn’t made a decision on that yet.

Caller: That’s terrible. Senator [  ] should absolutely oppose any attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell is trying to bully Senators into supporting TrumpCare out of desperation and to get a partisan win. One version of repeal leads to 32 million Americans losing health insurance and the other leads to 22 million. How can the Senator support that?

Staffer: Well those numbers aren’t accurate because we don’t know how the bill will change before the final vote.

Caller: That is absolutely unacceptable. Both versions of the bill will lead to higher premiums, fewer options on the individual marketplace, and less consumer protections. This is playing games with people's lives. How can the Senator vote when they don’t know what they are voting on?

Staffer: Again, Senator hasn’t made a decision yet.

Caller: I want Senator [  ] to make a decision, and oppose any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I want the Senator to vote against the motion to proceed and against the bill itself.

Staffer: Thank you. I’ll let the Senator know your thoughts.

Caller: Thank you. Please take down my contact information so you can let me know how Senator [  ] votes.