Opinion: Another question raised about estimate of Senate health bill

Sen. Marco Rubio speaks with reporters on Tuesday. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The big news this week turned out not to be a health-care vote on Thursday or Friday, but the concession by GOP Senate leadership on Tuesday that they don’t yet have the votes for the bill and won’t bring it to the floor before the July 4 recess. It’s not exactly the news I hoped to be reporting upon getting to town today, but being here has been worthwhile all the same.

For example: In a scrum with reporters right after the caucus luncheon today, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida pointed to a new criticism of the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the Senate bill that I’d overlooked:

“The one place I think everybody feels like we need to know more — look, CBO just told us, the baseline they’re basing these coverage losses off (is) a baseline that isn’t real. They’re basing it off 2016 numbers that in some cases are off by 200 percent. Five million of the 22 million of losses are people they think might be added to the Medicaid rolls by new states that decide to expand in the future. But on, basically, guesswork, they’ve admitted.

“I think the first thing we need is an actual CBO score on what the actual insurance marketplace looks like right now. Because the baseline they’re using to compare this bill to is March 2016 numbers that are way obsolete at this point.”

You may recall I’ve previously explained the CBO’s estimate of an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill was bound to be fraught with error because it uses as a baseline its projections of what it thinks would happen in the future under Obamacare, and compares any new bill to those. The problem is that the CBO has consistently overestimated how many people would buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, but it hasn’t lowered its projections for future years to take account of its past mistakes. Until it does that, it is bound to overestimate — perhaps by many millions — the number of people who would “lose” insurance under a reform. (I’m not going to rehash the entire argument here, so if you haven’t read it please click here.)

What I didn’t catch in my initial perusal of the latest CBO report was this paragraph, which may have been what Rubio was talking about:

“In the projections published in January 2017, the direct spending and revenue effects of the ACA’s insurance coverage provisions and the total number of people projected to be uninsured were similar to those in the March 2016 baseline, but the number of people projected to purchase subsidized coverage in the marketplaces was smaller, and the average subsidy per person was larger. If this legislation was evaluated relative to the January 2017 baseline rather than the March 2016 baseline, it is unclear how different categories of insurance would be affected and whether the budgetary effects would differ noticeably.”

Emphasis added. The big question is why the CBO wouldn’t have used the January 2017 baseline instead of the March 2016 one, which obviously lacks an entire year’s worth of data and experience with Obamacare — including even higher premiums, even larger deductibles, and even more disappointing exchange enrollment. The closest the report gets to providing an explanation is this line: “The agencies have not had time to undertake a follow-on analysis of the effects of this legislation under that baseline.”

Or, as Rubio put it: “They said they’re busy.”

That’s unacceptable. And not even wholly rational: The Senate bill just came out this week; how was there time to analyze it with the March 2016 numbers but not the January 2017 numbers?

More to the point: Why wouldn’t we have even fresher data at this point, with the 2016 enrollment period now completely over? We know now, for instance, that rather than the 15 million exchange enrollees the CBO projected last year for 2017, there are 10.3 million, a difference of almost 33 percent from the projection and a decline from last year. That was not known in January. Why is anyone still basing a projection for a new bill on such an obviously faulty and out-of-date baseline number?

Senate leaders deserve some fault for this. They have been working on the bill for weeks now; why have they not in the meantime directed the CBO to update its projections with the most recent data? If the most recent data caused the number-crunchers to adjust their projections for future years to levels more realistic, based on past experience, that could have a huge effect on the projection for the Senate bill — and thus public opinion of the bill. Senate leaders had waited this long to release a draft. It surely would have made sense to wait longer if the CBO needed more time.

Overall, the sense I’ve gotten in just a relatively few hours here is that while there’s some political and procedural value in putting a bill text out in the public — if nothing else, it makes people start to get more serious about what they would or wouldn’t vote for — the bill wasn’t truly ready for prime time. The CBO estimate only underscores that.

ADDED Wednesday at 11 a.m.: In case you were wondering how much those CBO estimates have changed over the years, and specifically between March 2016 and January 2017:

For you math majors out there, that’s a decline of 5 million to 7 million per year. Taking account of that one change in projections would eliminate one-fourth to one-third of the coverage “losses” estimated for the Senate bill.

Reader Comments 0

252 comments
Elissa_Elle
Elissa_Elle

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http://www.fl-y.com/3pbq 

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@Elissa_Elle I suggest that you spend some of your scam money and invest in some English lessons. "Quitted" your job - Jeebus!

Dorothy R. Gaines
Dorothy R. Gaines

 our buddy's half-sister makes 80 every hour at home. she has been unemployed for 5 months, last month her check was 20050 just working on the internet for 2 hours a day.. go to

....  www.smart-job5.com

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Poor Wingfield. He probably had a blog entry to tackle additional issues/points about the healthcare bill. Instead it got side track with face lifts and tweets

Caius
Caius

The G 20 starts in a week. The question is will Trump continue to abdicate US leadership of the Free World and the Western World? 

Who will replace the US as that leader? Money seems to be on Angela Merkel and Germany.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Caius

Lunacy

You are basing your opinion on one issue - Climate Change.  Which is not a consensus within the sane.

The world knows who the leader is - the USA/Trump.

Country after country has praised Trump and stated how glad they are Obama is gone.

Live with it.


Caius
Caius

@JohnnyReb @Caius Actually I am basing my question on what I am reading in the European press and what they report European leaders are saying.

No where in my comment did I give my opinion on the matter.

And the European money seems to be on Merkel. Not sure on the Asian money.


JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Caius @JohnnyReb

Posturing, are you familiar with the term?

Obama stepped back from being the leader of the world.

Trump has regained that prominence.

The Europeans are "smarting" from Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate disaster and demanding they start spending the agreed NATO amount on defense.

You can bet your shorts/panties when push comes to shove they recognize the USA is THE superpower and therefore the leader.

rimsky
rimsky

@JohnnyReb @Caius Could you name a few of those countries except say venezuala or phillipins.....

Doomy
Doomy

@rimsky @JohnnyReb @Caius


It is spelled Venezuela, not "venezuala".  And it is also spelled Phillippines, not "phillipins". 


Kind of funny that you used to complain about "poorly educated" conservatives when you can't spell either of the 2 nations you mentioned correctly. LOL!

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb @Caius Trump may have saved the idea of a united Europe. The idea of the US as "The Superpower" went away with the fiasco in Iraq.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Krauthammer is an inside the beltway pundit, aka the establishment who has been against Trump from the start.

And Karen Handel is the poster girl for the Establishment, yet you celebrated her victory.

Your ethics are quite situational I certainly must say.

 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

Nope

I like Krauthammer, but since he is establishment one has to expect a lack of full support to Trump.

Trump is dismantling the DC establishment, they don't like it.

Voters do.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

So now Trump is asking congress to repeal Obamacare and replace it over time. Should have been months ago. Get rid of this costly worthless law.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

I posted that suggestion a few back.

When faced with nothing but a roll back to pre-ACA, Dims will have no choice but to work with Repubs.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@SGTGrit

Another broken campaign promise. And more proof that he is a stupid, lying scumbag.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Eye wonder @SGTGrit

Sane people do not view the failure thus far to repeal and replace Obamacare as Trump's fault.

Keep trying.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Eye wonder


Thats after a previous tweet the day before where he said he doesn't watch them anymore. 


You just know he set his alarm to 6 am to watch them first thing in the morning. How folks think he is not self-absorb is beyond me at this point.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

There is little to no hope MSM will ever give the needed attention to crooked Democrats.

Here's just off the top of my head, I'll probably miss a few.

Obama and Holder - nothing there on Fast & Furious guns.

Obama - you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.

Obama - there is not a smidgen of evidence of IRS targeting conservatives.

Obama and Hillary - Benghazi was due to a video.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz - colluded with Hillary against Bernie.

Donna Brazil - gave Hillary debate questions in advance.

Hillary - home server, secret document mishandling.

Hillary - pay to play

Hillary - approving 20% of our uranium to be sold to Russia

Hillary - deplorables

Loretta Lynch - call the FBI investigation of Hillary a "matter."

Loretta Lynch - meet with Bill Clinton during Hillary investigation.

Obama, Susan Rice, Samantha Power - unmasking of Trump campaign staff caught up in NSA surveillance of foreigners.

McCabe - FBI second in command has close ties to Dims and appoints Muller as special council who is close friends with Comey.

McCabe - attacks Flynn for personal reasons resulting in Flynn's ouster from Trump cabinet.

Comey - leaks information to MSM.

Dims - denies so many illegals voted - over 5 million.  Wants to throw out Electoral College.  Calls for impeachment starting before inauguration.

MSM and Dims - collude to delegitimize Trump with no evidence of wrongdoing.


JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Eye wonder @JohnnyReb

I know it must be difficult for your little bleeding heart to bear, but at sometime you have to face the truth.

Your bunch are crooks.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Eye wonder @JohnnyReb We are lucky JohnnyReb has not listed the lies and false promises of Donald Trump. There would be no room on this blog for anything else.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

LibProgs continue to underestimate Trump and this latest hoopla over Trump's tweet attack at the MSNBC Morning Joe lovebirds is an example as it has brought out the very unattractive side of MSM.

For example, we have Chris Matthews, you know the guy who wet himself over Obama.

"On Thursday’sHardball, MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews compared the President to not only communist Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and a modern-day Romanov but also channel Benito Mussolini having son-in-law Jared Kushner murdered."

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/06/29/matthews-suggests-trump-channel-mussolini-murder-kushner-compares

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb 

And conservative Charles Krauthammer compared Trump to Hugo Chavez and Duterte.

Next.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

Krauthammer is an inside the beltway pundit, aka the establishment who has been against Trump from the start.

Mercedes Slaap gave the good doctor quite the debate when he made the remark.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Yes, Trump's rhetoric is not what traditionally comes from a president, however, the MSM attacks on Trump are also not traditional.

The criticism of Trump has been negligible compared to the 8 year evisceration of George W by the liberal media, and the 8 year trashing of Obama by the conservative media. 

There is absolutely no excuse for Trump's garbage.  He's a white trash punk, a low class piece of garbage and a gutless little coward who can dish it out but can't take it. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

The W and Barry criticisms rolled into one do not come close to the attacks on Trump.

W made a mistake not fighting back.  This has been widely discussed on the Right.

MSM fawned over Obama for 8 years throwing journalism aside.  Only FOX in the network group opposed Obama and that opposition was not personal attacks.

So take off the rose colored glasses punk and see the truth.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

In another sign of LibProg lunacy....

The New York Times is laying off fifty of their copy editors.

What happens?

They protest with picket signs.


JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

A huge portion of Dim resistance to repealing Obamacare is their attempt to retain something for his legacy.


SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The libs are living in complete denial. The greater majority of Obamacare exchanges have failed, over 80 insurers have withdrawn, dozens more have announced their withdrawal. people who thought they have coverage can no longer use it. Millions will be uninsured next year. It's no longer a question of replacing Obamacare the healthcare crises is now. Meanwhile the Republican senate has a replacement that's really only a fix. Democrats say they want a fix not a repeal. This is lunacy.

Caius
Caius

@SGTGrit The first 5 months of the new administration has seen congress and the president keep Obamacare intact with zero changes.

breckenridge
breckenridge

"Presidents don’t talk like this. They never have. This is what it sounds like when you’re living in a banana republic. This is how Hugo Chávez would talk about his opponents. This is how the worst dictator, Duterte in the Philippines, would talk about opponents.” Charles Krauthammer, talking about Trump's latest Tweet, on Fox News, 6-29-2017

 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

Yes, Trump's rhetoric is not what traditionally comes from a president, however, the MSM attacks on Trump are also not traditional.

The whiners say Trump must stop personal attacks.

Where is their outrage toward those who have constantly disparaged Trump since before his election?

They want respect?

Show some.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Polling shows only about 20% like the Senate healthcare insurance plan.

Not surprising but keep in mind the 80% that don't like it includes two very opposing opinions.

That it does not give away enough,

and that it gives away too much.

And BTW, Thune - Senator from South Dakota stated yesterday that single payer would cost 6.6 Trillion.

Forgetaboutit

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@JohnnyReb 

The Democrats really want a single payer system. They've wanted that all along, the ACA was just the first step. Now we hear them saying they want a fix to Obamacare not a repeal. The senate bill is only a fix but it has too many free market elements that would take the bill off the course toward a single payer and that's what bothers Democrats and why they'll fight it anyway they can. Republicans need to get over themselves and understand the Dem strategy and their ultimate goal. Trump, needs to get off the tweets and get on with a presidential address to the nation pointing out the Obamacare crises and the plan to fix it.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Hey Kyle and Cons- Obamacare is the law of the land and the  GOP  will never have the political will to repeal it. WIMPS

breckenridge
breckenridge

Well we had a rare instance of bipartisan agreement today.  Those on both sides of the aisle told Trump to  stop demeaning the office of the president with his idiocy.