GOP Health Plan
Today Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, discussed the new GOP health plan, addressing criticism of the proposed bill. At times Spicer seemed agitated and upset at some of the more persistent questions, especially those by Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, who pressed Spicer on the estimated loss in insurance for millions of people.
The White House expressed a lack of faith in the CBO’s estimate that 14 million people will lose insurance under the new plan, saying that the CBO was “unreliable” and frequently incorrect. Spicer drew a distinction between the CBO being able to accurately predict numbers vs people. It was unclear how counting people significantly differed from counting dollars.
Part of the White House’s criticism of the CBO’s estimate was that it did not take into account the second and third prongs of the bill, both of which have not yet been drafted. Spicer was asked how the CBO could be expected to evaluate bills that don’t exist and may never exist, pointing out that prong two and three will have a very difficult time of passing.
Spicer was also asked how the White House will be able to tell if the new bill is a success if they don’t believe the CBO’s estimates and won’t do their own. He claimed that “basic common sense” would be used to determine success.
Spicer was also asked if, by definition of allowing people to no longer carry insurance if they don’t want it, the number of insured will have to drop, possibly by millions. The Press Secretary dodged the question and instead reiterated the unsupported belief that people were currently getting “A card but no care,” implying that coverage at a hospital does not mean the hospital will treat a person.
The White House feels that “Americans may not understand the bill,” which is why they don’t care for it.
Some of the assertions made by Spicer were thin on supporting facts. For example, the Press Secretary said that many people had deductibles of $20,000 a year. It was not clear what plans the Press Secretary was referring to, as most plans have deductibles in the $6k-$8k range. These are definitely high compared to before the ACA, but if users shop around they can get family deductibles closer to $1k-$3k. $20k deductible plans tend to be what are called “catastrophic plans” and not at all comparable.
The number of people on the ACA was also off. Spicer said it was 9 million and dropping, when the most recent figures show it at over 20 million.
When asked if insurance companies would do better or worse under the GOP plan, Spicer evaded, but did say that currently “insurance companies are doing very well.”
Spicer also criticized the Affordable Care Act as being passed in secret, with Congress only able to read the bill after it was passed. That idea is patently false, and has been debunked extensively over the years. It’s just not how bills are passed.
Spicer also reiterated the importance of passing the GOP bill, saying that if this bill doesn’t pass, it will be “unbelievably difficult” to repeal the ACA.
Spicer was also asked questions about President Trumps accusation that Obama illegally wire tapped Trump Towers. Ten days after initially tweeting the claim, the White House said that Trump did not mean “wiretapping” and “Obama” literally, which did nothing to clarify things.
Today Spicer was asked if the White House felt evidence would be forthcoming, and he replied that “evidence will be shown.” The White House appears to be doubling down on their claim, now saying that surveillance was done, although it wasn’t clear if such surveillance was legal.