Congressional Democrats immediately lobbed harsh criticism at the GOP Senate health care bill after a Congressional Budget Office estimate showed 22 million people stand to lose health insurance coverage if the bill becomes law.
The legislation intends to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and has already faced tough criticism from Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who last week described the proposal’s tax savings for the wealthy as “blood money.”
Monday’s CBO score confirmed what those Democrats already suspected: Because the bill dramatically scales back funding for Medicaid, millions will lose their health coverage over the next decade, and savings will mostly be transferred to health care companies and wealthy individuals via tax cuts.
“Throwing 22 million Americans off of health insurance, raising premiums for older Americans, defunding Planned Parenthood and giving $231 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a cynical and immoral proposal,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the bill’s most prominent critics. “The reality is that this so-called ‘health care’ bill is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the very rich.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) had a more concise assessment:
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) described the bill as a “humanitarian catastrophe waiting to happen.”
Other Democrats questioned how Republicans could support the bill — known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act — in good conscience.
After working largely in secret, Senate Republicans unveiled their version of the House-approved health care bill last Thursday. In addition to its draconian cuts to Medicaid, the bill will also change the private insurance market by adjusting financial assistance eligibility benchmarks to include fewer middle-class people and by reducing the amount of assistance people will receive.
It would also effectively eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty, and would give states the ability to waive requirements for coverage of “essential” benefits and eliminate many taxes for health care companies.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pushed to hold a vote on this bill this week, though he has yet to come up with the votes necessary to pass it.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), one of several GOP senators who have so far declined to back the bill, said he didn’t think lawmakers had enough information to cast a vote yet.
“There’s no way we should be voting on this next week,” he said. “There’s no way.”
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have also publicly opposed the bill in its current form.