The Trump administration is trying hard to "change the narrative" about the health care bill. Now it's pushing back against the CBO estimate that the Senate bill would cover 22 million fewer people than the ACA. In fact, the White House thinks 1 to 2 million people could gain coverage next year.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, senior administration officials got into super-wonky details about why they think CBO's estimate is inflated:
They say CBO was using a "baseline" that assumed 18 million people would be covered in the ACA exchanges next year if the law doesn't change — which is unlikely, since only 10.3 million are covered now.It assumes 4 million people would leave Medicaid next year because the ACA's individual mandate would be gone. One administration official called that "rather silly," since Medicaid is "free health care."
And why do they think 1 to 2 million people could actually gain coverage under the Senate bill? "Premiums are going to go down, and more people are going to have an opportunity to participate and get a tax credit and be a part of that market," said one official.
The bottom line: Some of CBO's estimates of the ACA were clearly off, and the Trump administration may be able to generate doubt about its future assumptions. But it's hard to win a political argument where the opponents have a clear and easy claim — "22 million uninsured" — and the Trump administration's best argument is, "Yes, but the 2016 baseline..."