Republicans have made some pretty dishonest statements about their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in recent days, including that it would not cut Medicaid (it would) and that it would lower premiums (it would not).
What might take the cake, however, is one of the GOP’s main rationales for why Obamacare needs to be junked rather than simply shored up. Key Republicans, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, argue that the law enacted in 2010 failed because millions of people still have no health insurance. Meanwhile, they push legislation that would add to this problem.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) reiterated the criticism of Obamacare in reaction to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that an additional 22 million people would be uninsured under the bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) crafted in secret.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer took it a step further Wednesday by tweeting a graphic from the HHS and saying 28.2 million uninsured Americans need “relief.”
In fact, the three separate GOP health care proposals that have emerged this year ― two in the House and the Senate one ― all would increase the uninsured number by 22 million or more, according to the CBO estimates.
That’s not to say that the current draft of the Senate GOP bill does absolutely nothing for the uninsured. It would repeal the penalty individuals must pay under Obamacare if they choose not to purchase insurance. It does not, however, give them “relief” in the form of insurance.
If Republicans are really interested in lowering the number of Americans who lack health insurance, they could choose to expand Medicaid in more states. They could provide more subsidies for people to purchase insurance. They could also make insurance available to undocumented immigrants, who were deliberately excluded from the Affordable Care Act’s benefits and are barred from enrolling in Medicaid.
Republicans, though, do not seem interested in any of those options. Their health care legislation phases out the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. It provides fewer dollars in subsidies for people to purchase insurance. And next week, the House will vote on two more immigration enforcement bills.