CBO: GOP Health Care Plan Inadequate, Pointless (UPDATED)

The CBO has scored the GOP health care reform bill, proving that sometimes the only thing worse than no plan is a bad plan.

Ezra Klein breaks it down:

CBO begins with the baseline estimate that 17 percent of legal, non-elderly residents won’t have health-care insurance in 2010. In 2019, after 10 years of the Republican plan, CBO estimates that …17 percent of legal, non-elderly residents won’t have health-care insurance. The Republican alternative will have helped 3 million people secure coverage, which is barely keeping up with population growth. Compare that to the Democratic bill, which covers 36 million more people and cuts the uninsured population to 4 percent.

But maybe, you say, the Republican bill does a really good job cutting costs. According to CBO, the GOP’s alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit.

The Democratic bill, in other words, covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan. And amazingly, the Democratic bill has already been through three committees and a merger process. It’s already been shown to interest groups and advocacy organizations and industry stakeholders. It’s already made its compromises with reality. It’s already been through the legislative sausage grinder. And yet it saves more money and covers more people than the blank-slate alternative proposed by John Boehner and the House Republicans. The Democrats, constrained by reality, produced a far better plan than Boehner, who was constrained solely by his political imagination and legislative skill.


Conservatives are trying to put a positive spin on this by claiming that their plan would cost little and save money (though, as Klein points out, less money than the Democratic plan).

Well, of course it costs less–it leaves tens of millions of Americans uninsured:

By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 3 million relative to current law, leaving about 52 million nonelderly residents uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, roughly in line with the current share. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the amendment’s insurance coverage provisions would increase deficits by $8 billion over the 2010–2019 period.

Plus, the GOP plan is fraught with loopholes. For instance, their bill allows insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. As part of that, insurers would be able to pick a ‘primary state’ to operate out of, whose laws will govern that insurer’s policies and practices wherever they do business.

Meaning that, if even one state allows insurance companies to, say, deny coverage due to preexisting conditions or drop coverage for seriously ill patients, then the insurance companies will simply pick that state as their ‘primary state’ in order to take advantage of those lax laws.

Conservatives might try to brag about the small price tag of their bill, but not all health care reform is created equal. The Democratic plan costs more because it covers more people, creates industry competition and establishes necessary, pro-consumer regulations. The paper-thin GOP plan does little to expand coverage to those who need it or to improve the coverage of those who have it, plus it’s fraught with industry-friendly loopholes.

There’s a reason why the Democratic plan is endorses by the AMA and the AARP (that is, America’s doctors, nurses, patients and retirees) while the GOP plan is backed by the health-industrial complex: the Democratic plan represents real, substantive reform while the GOP plan represents nothing but an insurance industry giveaway.

UPDATE: It’s worse than we thought–The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn finds that the GOP plan will reduce premiums by giving everyone less medical care:

Finally, whenever you hear that a reform plan will lower premiums, you should ask a follow-up question: How? In particular, would my premiums come down because I’m paying less for medical care and insurance coverage? Or am I just getting less medical care and insurance coverage? By weakening or removing requirements that insurance cover certain services–everything from cancer screenings to mental health–the Republican bill would likely result in people getting insurance that covers less.


So, yes, the Republican health care bill will lower premiums overall. But many people in poor health will see their premiums go up. And many people will get lower premiums only because they’re getting inferior coverage. Meanwhile, more than 50 million people will have no insurance whatsoever.

[All emphasis mine]

After spending months attacking the Democratic health care reform plan, this is the best the GOP could come up with? Their plan hasn’t even been out for more than a few days and it’s already been exposed as perhaps the most worthless piece of ‘reform’ legislation ever devised.

The GOOP plan is a joke and an embarrassment–just like the party who wrote it.