I kind of love how ridiculous things get repeated endlessly by people who claim to be informed. In his NYT column, Avik Roy warned us against taking seriously the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) projections of a surge in the uninsured under the Republican health care plan.
"First, some caution regarding the C.B.O.’s numbers. The C.B.O. is chock-full of committed and talented public servants, but the agency is neither omniscient nor infallible. In 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama, the C.B.O. predicted that by 2017, 23 million Americans would be enrolled in the law’s new insurance exchanges. Only about 11 million actually are.
"That’s because the C.B.O. failed to account for how the A.C.A.’s insurance regulations would drive premiums up for relatively healthy individuals. A new study by researchers at the Department of Health and Human Services finds that for people buying coverage on their own, premiums have more than doubled in the Obamacare era. Most adversely affected have been those whose incomes — while modest — were not low enough to qualify for sufficient amounts of the A.C.A.’s insurance subsidies.
"While the C.B.O. was overly optimistic in 2010 about Obamacare, there’s a strong case that it is being overly pessimistic about the new House bill, the American Health Care Act."
Actually, CBO was overly pessimistic about Obamacare. If we look to CBO's last report on the Affordable Care Act, before the exchanges began operation in 2014, it projected that there would be 29 million people uninsured as of 2017 (Table 3). In its most recent analysis, it puts the number of uninsured in 2017 at 26 million (Table 4). In other words, the number of people who are uninsured under the ACA is 3 million fewer than CBO had predicted back in 2012.
In what world is overestimating the number of uninsured "overly optimistic?" It is true that fewer people are in the exchanges than CBO expected. This is due to the fact that more people have qualified for Medicaid and also more people are receiving employer-provided insurance, as fewer companies than expected dropped coverage.
But, so what? The point was to get people insured, not necessarily to have them insured through the exchanges.
So remember the facts when you read Roy's NYT column giving his prognostications for the Republican health care reform. Here's a guy who couldn't even bother to get the basic numbers on the ACA right.