(Corrects TV program on which Ryan spoke to CBS' "Face the
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, March 13 A non-partisan report
expected as soon as Monday on the costs of a Republican plan to
replace the Obamacare healthcare law could harden opposition to
the proposal, adding to the obstacles facing President Donald
Trump's first major legislative effort.
The Congressional Budget Office, which provides official
cost estimates for legislation, is widely expected to find the
Republican plan will result in fewer Americans with health
insurance than under the Affordable Care Act, former Democratic
President Barack Obama's signature domestic legislation.
Just days before taking office in January, Trump promised
"insurance for everybody" in his Obamacare replacement.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican
healthcare plan's top backer in Congress, acknowledged on CBS'
"Face the Nation" program on Sunday that the CBO projections
would likely show a decline in insurance coverage because the
legislation would drop an Obamacare provision mandating that
Americans obtain health insurance or pay a fine.
"The one thing I'm certain will happen is CBO will say:
'Well, gosh. Not as many people will get coverage,'" Ryan said.
"You know why? Because this isn't a government mandate."
Ryan added the Republican plan would lower healthcare costs
and allow more people to afford coverage if they want it.
He said he expected the CBO report on Monday or Tuesday.
The House Republican legislation would also roll back an
expansion of Medicaid insurance for the poor, and replace
Obamacare's income-based subsidies with a system of fixed tax
credits to help people buy private insurance on the open market.
The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has estimated 6
million to 10 million people could lose health insurance under
the Republican plan, known as the American Health Care Act.
It would cancel tax revenues worth at least $600 billion
over 10 years, according to Congress' Joint Committee on
REPUBLICANS DOWNPLAY REPORT
The CBO report is needed to determine the full budgetary
impact of the legislation - whether the savings from the
Medicaid cuts and lower subsidy costs are enough to offset the
loss of tax revenues.
Republicans have long opposed Obamacare, saying it was
government overreach and led to higher insurance premiums.
Trump, a Republican, has called the law a "disaster" and made
its repeal and replacement a key campaign pledge.
Democrats and some influential Republicans say the
legislation to replace Obamacare would rip health insurance away
from millions of Americans and increase costs for many others.
The 2010 law provided 20 million previously uninsured Americans
with health coverage.
On Sunday, senior Trump administration officials attacked
the CBO's credibility and downplayed the upcoming report.
"We will see what the score is. In fact in the past, the CBO
score has really been meaningless," Gary Cohn, director of the
White House National Economic Council, told "Fox News Sunday."
Republicans have sharply criticized the CBO for its past
estimates that 22 million people would buy insurance through
Obamacare's government-run exchanges by 2016, when that number
only came to about 10.4 million, according to Department of
Health and Human Services data.
HHS Secretary Tom Price pledged on "Meet the Press" that
"nobody will be worse off financially" under the Republican
Still, the plan faces an uphill battle winning support in
the Republican-controlled Congress. In the face of unified
opposition from Democrats, Republicans can only afford to lose
21 votes in the House and two votes in the Senate.
Several conservative Republicans in the House said the plan
was too similar to the Obamacare provisions it would replace,
while some Republicans are concerned it will not lead to more
affordable healthcare coverage.
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Caren Bohan
and Peter Cooney)