In their condemnation of the Senate’s health-insurance bill, Democrats are seizing on the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance if the legislation passed in its current form.
But talk-radio show host Rush Limbaugh contends the argument is missing a crucial point: With the removal of the so-called Obamacare mandate requiring everyone to have insurance, many, particularly healthy young people, will simply choose to go without it.
And furthermore, he asked his listeners Tuesday, “Who is to say that people will not buy affordable insurance when that becomes an option?”
The CBO also estimated the bill will cut the federal deficit by $321 billion by 2026. Premiums, which have more than doubled for most Americans since Obamacare was enacted in 2010, would be 30 percent lower in 2020 than they would be without reform, according to CBO.
The Democrats argument, Limbaugh said, “is akin to saying that a thousand prisoners who escape are now homeless.”
“Do you think the prisoners care? They just got out of prison, they just escaped but we’re gonna call ’em homeless because they’re not in prison anymore,” he said.
“Twenty-two million people escape the evil, punitive clutches of Obamacare, and we call them dead? Who is to say that some of these 22 million will not buy affordable insurance when that becomes an option?” he asked.
With half a dozen senators already expressing opposition to the current proposal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday afternoon that a planned vote has been delayed until after the July 4 congressional recess.
The CBO, signed into law in 1974 by President Nixon, is a bipartisan federal agency within the legislative branch that provides budget and economic information and assessment to Congress.
Limbaugh noted that one of the criticisms of the Senate bill is that Aetna, an Obamacare insurer, has said the legislation will motivate the company to ratchet up its individual market.
But “that’s exactly what needs to happen,” he said, contending market forces will make health care more affordable.
The CBO doesn’t take the free-market implications into account, Limbaugh explained, instead issuing “static, raw numbers” and leaving it to establishment media “for the worst interpretation possible.”
Ultimately, no one knows how many will go without insurance, he said, but “where we are is with people on the left, if government isn’t doing it, it isn’t being done, and if government isn’t doing it, it isn’t being done well.”
History shows, however, that “if government is doing you can make bank on the fact it’s inefficient.”
“If government is doing it you can make bank on the fact that it isn’t gonna work. And if government is doing it you can make bank on the fact that there are no cost controls involved and therefore there’s nothing relevant to people’s ability to afford something if the government’s involved.”
He also pointed out that many people have been forced to work part time because their employers couldn’t afford to provide health insurance under the conditions created by Obamacare.
Limbaugh noted John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, spoke at a news conference about the Senate health care bill at the National Press Club in Washington. He was joined by Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who claimed 187,000 people in his state would die if the Senate bill passed.
“Where does this stuff come from?” Limbaugh asked. “Why does it go unchallenged? 187,000 people will die. Why did nobody besides us talk about the number of people who would die under Obamacare at the direction of the death panels?
“The death panels were gonna ensure death. Obamacare counted on it! Obamacare counted on the old getting sick and not being treated because they wanted to treat the young and the healthy who didn’t need treatment because they’re young and healthy.”
‘Think of the logic’
A policy expert with the Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based free-market think tank, shared Limbaugh’s take on the CBO’s scoring of the bill.
“Think of the logic behind saying the bill is causing the uninsured to increase by liberating people from the coercive mandate to buy it — which is what the American people want,” said Peter Ferrara, Heartland’s senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy.
“Are those uninsured the result of the bill, or the result of decisions people are liberated to make in the market?”
He explained that most of the rest of the uninsured in the CBO score stem from reversal of the Obamacare Medicaid expansions, which is the foundation for the trillion dollars in spending saved under the Republican bill.
“Studies show health outcomes for those on Medicaid are no better than for those who are uninsured,” he argued.
“Instead of coercion to buy insurance the uninsured do not want to buy, or wasting more trillions on Medicaid, policy should be focused on lowering premiums and expanding choice.”
However, Michael Hamilton, Heartland’s research fellow for health care policy, criticized the bill, noting that even the notorious Obamacare architect, Jonathan Gruber, conceded it aims to repair, not replace Obamacare.
Hamilton said the CBO’s score “confirms the Senate is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with the Better Care Reconciliation Act, just as the House did with the American Health Care Act.”
He said the CBO score, along with most of Congress, “perpetuates the myth that having insurance implies having access to affordable health care.”
“Obamacare insurance is too expensive to use. Many stand to gain by losing their Obamacare coverage,” he said. “People could buy better, cheaper health care by ceasing to use health insurance to pay for non-catastrophic care.
“Unfortunately, most Democrats and too many Republicans insist on making insurance central.”