May 25, 2017

Why Republicans are ready to move on from the CBO report

You have to try pretty hard to find good news for the Republicans in the Congressional Budget Office report on the final House health care bill.

The best news: Individual insurance premiums would go down in the long term — with some pretty important exceptions — and the House might not have to vote again. And that's about it.

Data: Census Bureau Current Population Survey Data, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

It didn't change the big picture. The costs and coverage losses didn't change that much from the original House bill, before Republicans added state waivers from Affordable Care Act insurance regulations. It used to cover 24 million fewer people — now it's just 23 million.

It really didn't help Republicans on pre-existing conditions. It says that people will health problems will face "extremely high premiums" in states that get waivers, and might have to stop buying it, despite the extra $8 billion that Rep. Fred Upton added to help cover their costs.

It's going to be harder for the Senate to wipe out regulations. One Senate GOP aide texted Caitlin Owens: "The destabilizing effect of the waiver on health status adds to the toxicity of that stupid proposal so will be easy to delete."

Premiums would go down in the long term — partly because insurance wouldn't cover as much. Republicans all pointed out that CBO said the bill would lower premiums, but it would mostly do that for younger and healthier people — sick people could end up paying a lot more. For more on this, read Caitlin's story from last night.

The White House and Republicans will try to ignore it. From a White House official last night: "History has proven the CBO to be totally incapable of accurately predicting how healthcare legislation will impact health insurance coverage."

The danger of a House re-vote is fading. We won't know for sure until after Memorial Day, after Republicans and Democrats have had more time to analyze it. But there's nothing obvious that says the House bill missed its budget targets, and House GOP aides feel pretty sure they're safe.

Go deeper