Sunday, July 16, 2017

I asked a Republican senator how many uninsured people is okay. He couldn't answer.

Tara Golshan · Thursday, July 13, 2017, 11:48 am

The Senate is expected to release a new version of its health care bill Thursday, hoping to “fix” enough problems to garner enough Republican support and get a better score from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act, released in late June, was a flop, decried by conservatives and moderates alike. The CBO found that version of the bill would slash more than $770 billion in Medicaid spending and leave 22 million more uninsured than under current law. It also found many low-income Americans would simply forgo insurance rather than buy into high-deductible plans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping for a different CBO score this time. The revised bill is likely to include fewer tax cuts for the wealthy and more financial aid for people who buy private coverage, and it loosens Obamacare’s insurance regulations, allowing for more bare-bones health plans. Health policy experts say the changes will still likely amount to a CBO score projecting millions uninsured.

Will that be enough to get hesitant senators on board? And what kind of CBO score are they looking for?

I caught up with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who has been active health care negotiations, to ask him this question. He couldn’t set a number.

“You are asking me what number am I comfortable with — well, I don’t know,” Cassidy said. “What I think is reasonable.”

What’s reasonable? Cassidy poked holes in the CBO’s methodology instead.

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