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The Weeds: where does the Republican health plan go from here?

“It’s been interesting to see that Republicans keep shifting.”

Photo by NurPhoto/Contributor/Getty Images

When the Congressional Budget Office released its assessment of the Republican bill to replace Obamacare, coverage converged on the startling estimate that 24 million people would lose coverage as a result of the GOP plan. But the bill would also raise costs for poor and older Americans and cut Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years.

Despite the widely negative coverage of the score and swift condemnation from groups ranging from health care lobbies to conservative political organizations, House Speaker Paul Ryan continues to argue that the CBO score is positive. He has gone so far as to say it “exceeded my expectations.”

President Trump, meanwhile, has distanced himself from the bill, asserting at a campaign rally in Nashville on Wednesday that the health plan is “preliminary” and open to “negotiation.”

On the latest episode of The Weeds, Vox’s Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias, and Sarah Kliff break down the CBO report and what it means for the GOP plan moving forward. They also discuss the portions of Trump’s 2005 tax returns revealed on Rachel Maddow’s show Tuesday night, and an interesting new white paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

You can listen to the episode here, or subscribe to the show on iTunes here.

Here are Sarah’s thoughts on what Trump supporters actually mean when they say they want to repeal Obamacare:

I did my reporting trip to Kentucky. I’ve also been working on these focus groups with Trump voters who are Obamacare enrollees with the research firm PerryUndem. One of the things I’ve been finding is they want Obamacare repealed, but when they say that, what they really mean is, “I want my health insurance to cost me less money.” That is what would look like Obamacare repeal to them.

When I’ve asked a lot of them, “President Trump said he’s going to repeal Obamacare and you have Obamacare insurance,” the response I get is: “Well, he’s going to replace it with something much better. My health insurance is going to cost a lot less under Trump.” And I think any changes that move in that direction are what people feel like they’ve been sold on. And rightly so. These are people who followed the election, who heard these promises of universal coverage.

It’s been interesting to see that Republicans keep shifting in this direction. Just yesterday, the Senate, led by Sen. John Thune, is now talking about means-testing the tax credit so low-income people get more help. What a novel idea; I don’t know where one would come up with such a thought. Maybe pair it with a tax penalty and see what happens. Today, it sounds like Axios is reporting that they’re thinking about getting rid of their continuous coverage provision because that sounds, like, super problematic. I was writing yesterday about a lot of the hurdles.

Show notes:

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