Republicans made a decision early on that they weren't going to try to compete with Democrats on how many people they could cover, because they'd never win. Now, they're about to find out whether the ideas they've been building up for years will give them coverage numbers they can at least live with.
GOP staffers don't know what the losses would be, But there was a lot of buzz yesterday about an article in The Federalist by Chris Jacobs, a conservative health care analyst and former Bobby Jindal adviser, based on an earlier draft. He reported that the Congressional Budget Office told Hill staffers that 10-20 million people would have lost their employer health coverage under the original draft.
The big gamble: The bill has changed since then, of course — but what does CBO say about the new version? The House health care committees are going to plow ahead before they find out.
Why it matters: Will the new coverage estimates be less terrible? Republicans won't know before the committee markups. They've said all along that they want to compete on their terms — by guaranteeing "access" to health coverage, but not forcing people to buy health insurance plans they don't want. Eventually, the new CBO numbers will catch up with them. Then they'll find out whether they can survive all of the headlines about coverage losses.