Roe: CBO numbers don't reflect reality of Senate healthcare bill

David Floyd • Updated Jun 29, 2017 at 10:44 PM

Millions more uninsured and millions fewer people on Medicaid.

That’s the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast of the impact of the U.S. Senate’s version of the GOP health care bill designed to replace Obamacare.

But U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said in a conference call with local media on Thursday these estimates probably wouldn’t reflect how the bill would play out in real life.

“What they (the CBO) do, and it took me a while to understand, what they have to do is ... take the law as is and then make an assumption based on the law,” Roe said. “It’s not how people behave — they can’t assume how people will behave. They will say, ‘If you don’t have a law, then these people won’t have to buy therefore they will not.’ That’s the assumption they make. ... It’s not logical, but that’s the way they have to do it.’”

Roe said the CBO report makes the assumption that, once the Obamacare mandate is taken away, people won’t buy health insurance.

“I’ve never had a mandate in my life and nor have families who get their health insurance through their employer,” Roe said. “... We get health insurance because we know it’s a responsible thing to do. We want to cover our families so that if they get sick they can have their problem taken care of and paid for. These formulas they put in are static.”

A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services shows individual market premiums have increased 176 percent in Tennessee between 2013 — the year before the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was implemented — and 2017, an increase of $374 from $213 in 2013 to $587 in 2017.

An article by Time, citing data by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reported the average employer-sponsored family plan jumped from $12,680 in 2008 to $18,142 in 2016, an increase of about 50 percent. However, the article states family premiums may have increased more had Obamacare never been approved.

Roe believes the House bill was probably a bit better than the Senate version, but he is still confident the bill will be passed. He hopes the bill will go to conference for further discussion between the legislative chambers.

“I am disappointed it is not a bipartisan bill,” he said. “I wish that the Democrats would step forward. I’ve certainly invited them to. They chose not to participate. It’s disappointing, but it’s what it is. I think you would have a better bill if it was a bipartisan bill.”

The Senate version of the bill was hashed out behind closed doors mostly by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Originally wanting to vote on the bill days after it was finally made public, Republican leaders realized they didn’t have enough votes to pass it and delayed the vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess.

Roe also discussed:

Immigration Bills

Two bills that the House voted on Thursday deal with issues of immigration.

One, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, would punish cities that will not follow federal law by restricting their eligibility for Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security grants. The law takes aim at “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government’s effort to enforce immigration laws.

The other, Kate’s Law, would enforce harsher penalties on criminals who re-enter the country illegally. The law is named after 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was allegedly shot and killed by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times and had seven felony convictions. 

“I don’t know how anybody could oppose either one of these bills, but we’ll see what the vote is,” Roe said.

The House passed Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act on Thursday.

Trump’s Thursday Tweet

In a pair of Thursday morning tweets, President Donald Trump attacked “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, calling Brzezinski “low I.Q.” and “crazy” and Scarborough “psycho.”

The president also claimed they insisted on joining him at Mar-a-Lago during a trip the pair took to the resort. “I said no!” Trump said in second of the two tweets. Trump also claimed Brzezinski was “bleeding badly” from a facelift.

Many congressmen, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, have criticized his comments.

“Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America,” Graham wrote on his Twitter page. 

At the time of the conference call on Thursday morning, Roe said he hadn’t had a chance to look at the tweet, but he did share some advice he had received a while ago.

“George Jaynes, our former county mayor in Washington County, gave me the best advice I’ve ever had,” Roe said. “He said, ‘You can’t quote silence,’ and I maybe should pass that along to the president.”

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