Health and Science

White House estimated HIGHER drops in number of insured people than CBO did

Republicans defend health care plan
Republicans defend health care plan

What's your real bottom line, Mr. Trump?

The White House's own budget office estimated that more people would actually end up losing health insurance under the GOP's pending Obamacare replacement bill than the Congressional Budget Office did on Monday.

The Office of Management and Budget estimated that a whopping 26 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the Republican bill than if Obamacare remained in place, revealed in a story.

That's 2 million more than the CBO's estimate of 24 million.

The CBO's estimate sent shock waves through Washington after its release Monday afternoon.

The projection, a sharply higher number than several other prior analyses had projected, is generating serious concern among the Republican congressional caucus about whether the GOP bill has a chance of passing into law.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's health-care chief — who supports the Republican bill —claimed that the OMB's number isn't actually an estimate of how many people would really lose coverage under the GOP plan.

Instead, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told CNBC's Kayla Tausche on Tuesday morning that he believed the budget office, which serves the president, had been estimating what the CBO would project by using the CBO's methodology.

But neither Price, nor Trump, nor anyone else in the White House has said exactly how many people they believe would end up having health insurance if the Republican bill pending in the House of Representatives becomes law.

On Monday, after the CBO report on insurance losses was released, Price said it would be "virtually impossible to have that number occur."

And Price had said over the weekend on NBC's "Meet the Press" that, "I believe, again, that we'll have more individuals covered" under the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But Price has not pointed to any analysis that backs up that prediction.

In addition to the CBO, S&P Global Ratings and the Brookings Institution have projected sharp losses in the number of people with health insurance from the GOP bill, albeit to a lesser degree than the CBO did.

On Tuesday morning, CNBC sent a request to the White House asking how many people the OMB or the White House generally expects would be covered by the Republican plan, but as yet has received no response to that query.

Generally speaking, the more people that are seen as likely to lose their health coverage under an Obamacare replacement plan, the harder it will be to sell in Congress. And the longer the Trump White House delays issuing its own projections about coverage gains, or losses, the more time opponents of the bill will be able to use existing projections of losses to make their arguments.

Republicans had lambasted President Barack Obama in late 2013 after insurers started canceling millions of individual insurance plans in anticipation of new Affordable Care Act regulations taking effect in 2014.

Despite those cancellations, there was a net increase, of many millions of people, with health coverage starting in 2014. Most of the people, if not all, who had their old health plans canceled later either purchased other individual health plans, enrolled in Medicaid, or obtained coverage elsewhere.