White House press secretary Sean Spicer took to Twitter Wednesday morning to point out that 28 million Americans remain uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.
This is true; there are millions of Americans who currently lacking coverage. The Commonwealth Fund has a nice brief explaining who these people are.
But what Spicer leaves out is critical context: The number of uninsured would nearly double under the House and Senate Obamacare repeal bills. The House bill is projected to increase the number of uninsured Americans by 23 million, and the Senate bill by 22 million.
Here’s a more honest version of that graphic, created by Alvin Chang:
Republicans have repeatedly identified what they don’t like about the Affordable Care Act: It doesn’t cover enough people, and the deductibles are too high. They then went ahead and drafted legislation that would cover fewer people and drive deductibles even higher.
Here is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a January appearance on Face the Nation:
Well, what you need to understand is that there are 25 million Americans who aren’t covered now. If the idea behind Obamacare was to get everyone covered, that’s one of the many failures. In addition to premiums going up, copayments going up, deductibles going up. And many Americans who actually did get insurance when they did not have it before have really bad insurance that they have to pay for, and the deductibles are so high that it’s really not worth much to them.
This is a clear, cogent critique of the Affordable Care Act. But it is a stunning critique from a senator who’s currently pushing a bill that would exacerbate both of these problems. The Senate and House bills both encourage plans to offer less robust, more catastrophic-style options in the individual market. The Congressional Budget Office finds that these plans would lead to fewer people gaining coverage, and those who do sign up would face much higher out-of-pocket costs.
“CBO and JCT expect that the benchmark plans under this legislation would have high deductibles,” the nonpartisan agency estimated in its report on the Senate bill. This echoed a finding on the House bill: “Because of plans’ lower average actuarial values, CBO and JCT expect that individuals’ cost-sharing payments, including deductibles, in the nongroup market would tend to be higher than those anticipated under current law.”
This all brings up the question: What are the Republican repeal bills actually trying to accomplish? Because they certainly don’t solve the problems that legislators purport to have with the Affordable Care Act. It’s not clear that senators even know what problem they’re trying to solve — except, of course, passing something they can call Obamacare repeal.