The White House held what appeared to be a successful news conference Tuesday afternoon, embracing the plan introduced by House Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — something Republicans and Donald Trump have been promising for a long time.
Yet the big-ticket promises secretary of health and human services Tom Price and White House press secretary Sean Spicer made at the news conference — including promising lower premiums and more choice for Americans — present a risk. If people's health insurance costs rise or they see reductions in coverage, those promises could come back to bite Trump and the entire GOP down the road.
It's a lesson former President Barack Obama learned the hard way, when his 2009 promise that "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it" lead to devastating losses at the ballot box a year later after that claim proved not to be true.
Price made some of those same dangerous promises Tuesday, including that the GOP plan will cause health care costs to drop and that Americans will have more options for care.
"We believe strongly that, through this whole process and as it takes effect, that we'll see a decrease in not only the premiums that individuals will see but a decrease in the cost of health care for folks," Price said Tuesday afternoon. "We're going to go in a direction that empowers patients and holds down costs."
Spicer added later the GOP plan would create a "higher degree of likelihood that you're going to get the plan that you want and the doctor that you want," ultimately proclaiming the plan "will ultimately save the [health care] system."
Both Price and Spicer made their promises before the Congressional Budget Office — a federal agency that makes nonpartisan assessments of the personal and financial cost of legislation — released an assessment of how much the bill will cost.
Expert analysis shows millions could lose their health care access under the GOP plan, and that costs would rise by the thousands for many Americans.
A Vox analysis estimated the "average enrollee" would see costs rise by $1,542 in 2017. The site said that estimate is far higher for older Americans aged 55 to 64, increasing their cost by $5,269 per year. That's because the GOP's plan allows insurers to charge older Americans five times the rate they charge younger Americans. The ACA, on the other hand, allowed insurers to charge older Americans just three times the amount it charged younger Americans.
The American Association of Retired Persons — which represents the nation's most reliable voting bloc — already came out against the bill for that very reason, putting the bill's future in peril.
Of course, that assumes the GOP plan has any shot of passing Congress — something complicated by the absence of a CBO estimate of the costs to the government's coffers and voters' wallets,
Even worse for the plan's chances at becoming law is the fact that four Senate Republicans have already come out to say the bill is concerning, and that they would not support a bill that doesn't protect state Medicaid expansion.
If those four Senators vote no, that's more than enough to tank the plan in its current form.
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