The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says 22 million more Americans would be left without health insurance under the U.S. Senate’s version of a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.
This is 1 million fewer than under the House version, but is unlikely to change the minds of lawmakers who plan to vote against the Senate’s proposed replacement for Obamacare.
The White House says CBO estimates of the cost and impacts of health care laws have been consistently inaccurate, citing what it says were flawed reports in 2013 on the number of people covered by Obamacare.
President Donald Trump is calling opposition Democrats “obstructionists” for refusing to help Republicans find a replacement for the law passed under former President Barack Obama.
The Democrats, Trump ranted on Twitter Monday, “have no policies or ideas. All they do is delay and complain.”
He said, “Republican senators are working very hard to get there, with no help from the Democrats. Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash & burn!”
Senate Democrats unanimously oppose replacing Obamacare. Five moderate and conservative Republicans also are opposed to the Senate bill.
The moderates are afraid how the new law would hurt their constituents back home, while the conservatives say the bill leaves too much of the Obama law intact.
Trump only can afford two Republican “no” votes if his health care plan has any chance of surviving. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, and Vice President Mike Pence could break a 50-50 vote if two Republicans defected.
The House of Representatives narrowly approved its version of a new health care bill last month.
The new health care bill would end the requirement that Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine. It would phase out subsidies to help lower income people buy insurance, curb taxes on the wealthy and cut hundreds of billions of dollars in funding over the next several years for the government’s health care program for the poor and disabled.
Despite the united opposition of Senate Democrats, Trump told Fox News on Sunday, “I think we’re going to get there.”
He noted the complicated road in the coming days to pick a plan “that everybody is going to like,” but argued the alternative to changing U.S. health care policies is the collapse of the current law.
Senate Republicans offered some small changes to their proposal Monday, including a penalty for people whose insurance coverage lapses, an effort to persuade consumers to buy insurance before they have a health care emergency and need help with paying their medical bills.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump talked with some of the opponents in hopes of getting them to vote in favor of the legislation. Spicer said Trump is “pleased with the developments” in changes Senate Republicans are making to the House passed version, a plan Trump has labeled as “mean.”
Trump chided Democrats for their opposition to the Republican effort, saying on Twitter, “Democrats slam GOP health care proposal as Obamacare premiums & deductibles increase by over 100%. Remember keep your doctor, keep your plan?”
Under Obamacare, about 20 million more people have been enrolled in insurance plans, many of them under the government’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled, which Republicans now want to cut by more than $800 billion over the coming years. Trump said during his campaign for president he would not curtail Medicaid.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the Republican plan as “devastating for the middle class,” and said he thinks Republicans have at best even odds of being able to pass the bill. He added that Democrats are willing to work with Republicans to make reforms to the current health care system, but not repeal Obamacare.
“They want to try it themselves first,” he told ABC’s This Week program. “If they fail, hopefully they’ll come sit down. They’ll stop sabotaging Obamacare, and sit down with us, and we’ll make Obamacare better.”
Ever since Obamacare was enacted in 2010 without any Republican votes, House Republicans have voted dozens of times to repeal it, a futile effort as long as Obama was president. But repeal of the law could be possible with Republicans in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.
If the Senate approves its repeal version, either the House would have to pass the same bill or reconcile its version with the Senate’s before Trump could sign it into law.