House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he doesn’t know how many Americans would lose coverage under his proposal to revise the Affordable Care Act, which is under fire from fellow Republicans, AARP and virtually every sector of the U.S. health-care industry.
“I can’t answer that question,” Ryan said in an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“It’s up to people,” he said. “Here’s the premise of your question: Are you going to stop mandating people buy health insurance? People are going to do what they want to do with their lives because we believe in individual freedom in this country.”
Ryan’s answer focused on his proposal’s fulfillment of a long-standing Republican promise — to eliminate the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to carry health insurance and pay a penalty when they don’t. But he ducked the question of affordability, which is the cornerstone of most objections to the House GOP proposal to offer vastly less assistance to lower-
income Americans than the insurance subsidies provided under the current law.
According to an analysis by S&P Global, the Ryan plan would lead to a loss of coverage for 2 million to 4 million Americans who have bought insurance policies under the law.
The speaker also seemed to contradict President Trump, whose promise to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement has also come with a pledge that no one would lose health insurance coverage.
“It’s not our job to make people do something that they don’t want to do,” Ryan said. “It is our job to have a system where people can get universal access to affordable coverage if they choose to do so or not. That’s what we’re going to be accomplishing.”
Ryan’s interview came a day before the scheduled release of a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office expected to show how many people would lose coverage under the American Health Care Act, as the Ryan plan is called — and at what cost to the government. He was one of nearly a half-dozen top GOP leaders deployed Sunday to defend the legislation against a barrage of criticism from within the Republican Party.
“The one thing I’m certain will happen is CBO will say, ‘Well, gosh, not as many people will get coverage.’ You know why? Because this isn’t a government mandate,” Ryan said.
Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, also defended the Ryan plan on the Sunday show circuit by trying to draw a distinction between “care” and “coverage.” He suggested that the new law would lead to better, more affordable health care for most Americans even if fewer of them carry insurance.
“That’s what we’re trying to fix,” Mulvaney said. “Not coverage for people, not coverage they can afford, but care they can afford. When they get sick, they can go to the doctor. That’s what the Donald Trump plan is working on, and that’s where we think it is going to be wildly successful.”
That premise contradicts data from the Kaiser Family Foundationshowing that nearly a third of adults without insurance reported skipping doctor visits or other health services as a result of cost. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies access to health services and insurance as one of five main influences of overall health.
You can read the rest at the Washington Post.