Leaving Out the Key Number on the GOP Health Plan

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Here we go again.  Last time congressional Republicans made a go at reforming ObamaCare, I pointed out how the news media was falsely creating the impression that the GOP plan would cut Medicaid by 25% and throw people off of their health coverage:

Here’s the bottom line. According to its January 2017 baseline estimates, the CBO expects Medicaid spending to grow to $616 billion. That’s up from $368 billion in 2016, which is a 67% increase in annual spending over 10 years. The CBO’s scoring of the Senate bill is that it would reduce Medicaid spending by $158 billion in 2026, leaving it at $458 billion, which is up $90 billion from 2016, or 24%.

With GOP Senators making another attempt, a group called Avalere has utilized research from a left-wing think tank to get the news media singing the same sort of tune.  Here’s Ted Nesi’s summary of the upshot in Rhode Island:

Senate Republicans’ latest proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce Rhode Island’s federal health-care funding by $20 billion over the next decade and a half compared with current policy, according to a new study by consulting firm Avalere Health.

Readers should note the missing context.  Avalere actually goes out of its way not to give total spending amounts, making the whole analysis little more than a political ploy.  One simply can’t know what to conclude about this finding without some grounding.  Let’s accept the finding that Rhode Island will lose $20 billion over 16 years.  Well, how much will federal taxpayers be putting up total over that same period?

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A quick, close answer can be found via the Republicans’ spreadsheet showing their own projections of actual spending.  The Senators project that Rhode Island will receive $438 million dollars through the various affected programs in 2020, the last year under current law.  Under the proposed reform, Rhode Island would then receive $572 million in 2026.  That’s a 31% increase in annual funding.  Add the seven years of funding together, and Rhode Island will be receiving $3.5 billion under the GOP reform.

According to Avalere, Rhode Island’s funding over that seven-year period would be $2 billion more with no reform.  Distributed in the same proportions across the seven years, that implies 2026 spending that is actually doubled from 2020.  Does anybody really believe that’s affordable?

If this topic were properly reported, Americans would at least have a chance to come to the conclusion that we simply can’t afford not to reform this monster.  Or at least we’d have reason to wonder whether their jaw-dropping nature is why Avalere left this data out.

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