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CBO claims of Medicaid ‘cuts’ complete chicanery

If your boss ‘cut’ your salary like Senate Republicans want to ‘cut’ Medicaid, you’d be getting a hefty pay increase.

That’s just one piece of context that’s missing from the negative narratives coming out of Washington regarding Senate Republicans’ attempts to replace some elements of Obamacare with the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Start with Medicaid. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., a newly announced 2018 candidate for U.S. Senate, tweeted recently that “Senate GOP’s bill: Guts #Medicaid.”

Nope.

As President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday, Medicaid spending is $389 billion in 2017. That would grow to an estimated $458 billion by 2026. Under the status quo, Medicaid spending would grow to $624 billion by 2026. For context, Medicaid spending was $129 billion in 2001.

Remember those facts when Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky writes a show-boating letter asking Congress not to put the Medicaid funds the system receives at “risk”. News flash: The funds aren’t at risk. But CCSD students’ ability to read is at risk. Focus on that.

“Only in Washington is slowing the rate of growth a cut,” said Josh Archambault, a senior fellow with the nonpartisan Foundation for Government Accountability. “In both the House and Senate bill they spend more money (on Medicaid) — every year — it’s just growing less fast.

“We have heard from both the right and left for decades that the goal of health care is to slow the rate of growth, but now that a proposal is on the table to do it for Medicaid, the world will end.”

Unfortunately, some Nevada Republicans — led by Sen. Dean Heller — are adding to the misinformation.

“I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” Heller said at a June 23 news conference announcing his opposition to the bill.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 22 million people will lose health insurance by 2026 under the bill, but once again, diving into the details destroys the narrative.

The CBO estimates that — absent Obamacare repeal efforts — more states will expand Medicaid, and 5 million people in those states will enroll in Medicaid by 2026. Under the CBO’s numbers game, those 5 million people who don’t currently have Medicaid coverage will “lose” that coverage in the future because they’ll never be able to sign up under the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Archambault points out that the CBO is basing its projections off a 2016 estimate that 25 million people will have private non-employer-based insurance in 2026. Under the Better Care Reconciliation Act, CBO says 18 million people will have non-employer-based insurance in 2026, a difference of 7 million people.

But the CBO’s 2016 estimate isn’t its newest. Obamacare has put many private insurance plans in death spiral — a reality that just hit 14 Nevada counties on Wednesday — so CBO’s newest estimate says 20 million people will have private non-employer-based insurance in 2026 under Obamacare.

So the CBO is saying 18 million people will be insured under the Better Care Reconciliation Act in 2026 instead of 20 million insured under the status quo.

Despite the headlines, the sky isn’t falling — but if Republicans pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act, premiums might.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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