House Speaker Paul Ryan uses charts and graphs to make his case for the GOP’s long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during a news conference in Washington last week. A Congressional Budget Office analysis concluded that fewer Americans will have health coverage under the proposal, despite President Donald Trump’s promise of “insurance for everybody.” | J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

No denying CBO facts in sizing up GOP health care bill

SHARE No denying CBO facts in sizing up GOP health care bill
SHARE No denying CBO facts in sizing up GOP health care bill

Follow @csteditorialsFinally, facts must matter.

Even before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, headed by a staunch Republican conservative, released an analysis this week of a House proposal to overhaul Obamacare, the Trump administration and others tried their best to discredit the agency.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise snorted that the CBO is nothing but a bunch of  “unelected bureaucrats.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer double snorted and said, “If you’re looking to the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place.”

EDITORIAL Follow @csteditorials

But on this matter of pressing national urgency, when the ability of millions of Americans to afford basic health care is on the line, whom are we to believe? A White House that makes stuff up? Or the CBO, one of the most trusted agencies of the federal government, though of course it is not infallible?

We’re going with the CBO. And so should every congressman and senator. Let’s go at it and argue the merits of the Republican proposal — love it or hate it or something in between. But let’s not deny the basic facts as best they can be known. We’re talking health care, not how many people attended President Trump’s inauguration.

The CBO sometimes gets stuff wrong, as when it overestimated how many people would sign up for Obamacare, but there is no more credible source for this sort of predictive analysis in Washington.

If the Republican proposal, as written, becomes law, the budget office predicts that 24 million more people will be without health insurance by 2026. Younger and healthier Americans will fair best, able to get insurance at a lower cost. Older and sicker Americans, who are more likely to vote Republican, will pay considerably more — and tax credits won’t make up the difference. Millions of the working poor, who rely on Medicaid, may be cut out of health insurance altogether, given limits on how much in funding the federal government would provide states.

On the upside, the CBO estimates the Republican proposal would result in $337 billion in deficit reduction by 2016. And upper-income Americans and insurance companies would enjoy tax cuts.

Those are the facts. They can’t be talked away.

But they force the question: What kind of country do we want to be?

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