House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) predicted Sunday there would be a “bloodbath” if his party didn’t unite behind his Obamacare replacement bill, even as Republican opponents to the proposal continued blasting it and as the White House dismissed the importance of an imminent Congressional Budget Office analysis expected to conclude that the plan will leave more Americans uninsured.
“If we don’t keep our word to the people who sent us here, then yeah,” Ryan told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” when asked if he agreed with President Trump’s comments last week that the party would suffer a “bloodbath” in the 2018 midterm election if they failed to pass legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare.
“We ran for repeal and replace in 2010. We ran on repeal and replace in 2012, in 2014, in 2016. Oh, by the way, we spent six months last year developing a replacement plan. We ran on that replacement plan,” Ryan added, calling opposition from his fellow Republicans “really puzzling.”
Ryan’s comments — coming amid relentless attacks on the bill from others within the GOP — came as the White House trotted out various Trump cabinet members to defend the bill.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price offered a guarantee that “nobody will be worse off financially” as a result of the bill.
“Coverage is going to go up,” he added on NBC’s “Meet the Press” before slamming detractors’ labeling of the bill as “Obamacare Lite.”
“Absolutely not,” Price responded when asked whether he agreed with the label.
Price also rejected a projection from the Brookings Institution that the bill would leave 15 million fewer Americans without insurance coverage.
“The plan that we’ve laid out here will not leave that number of individuals uncovered,” Price said. “In fact, I believe, again, that we’ll have more individuals covered.”
The GOP legislation would eliminate the current mandate that nearly all people in the United States carry insurance or face fines. It would use tax credits to help consumers buy health coverage, expand health savings accounts, phase out an expansion of Medicaid and cap that program for the future, end some requirements for health plans under Obama’s law, and scrap a number of taxes.
The CBO is scheduled to release its long-awaited cost analysis of the plan early this week, including estimates on the number of people likely to be covered.
Ryan admitted he expected the CBO analysis to find that fewer people will be covered under the GOP plan because it eliminates the government requirement to be insured.
“What we’re trying to achieve here is bringing down the cost of care, bringing down the cost of insurance not through government mandates and monopolies but by having more choice and competition,” he said. “We’re not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do.”
But on Sunday, White House aides took pains to explain that a CBO finding of fewer people covered would not necessarily mean that fewer people will be covered.
“If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be eight million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN, disputing the accuracy of CBO data.
“Sometimes we ask them to do stuff they’re not capable of doing, and estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn’t the best use of their time.”
The public relations blitz didn’t, however, stop other Republicans from doubling down on their recalcitrance.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ariz.), who last week said Republicans should just “start over” on the bill, encouraged his colleagues to “not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, said the plan “doesn’t unite Republicans.”
“There’s a reason why every major conservative group is opposed to the Speaker’s plan,” Jordan said, referencing conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action and Club for Growth, as well as the AARP and groups representing hospitals, doctors and insurers, which have all come out against the bill.
At least eight other Senate Republicans, joining Cotton, have also said they won’t support the bill, with most criticizing its provisions to create health care tax credits and slamming the plan for slow-walking an end to Medicaid expansion.
Moderate Republicans and those from swing areas, meanwhile, have expressed concerns about its provisions to undo Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
With News Wire Services