The Senate GOP's healthcare bill will likely get better scores from the Congressional Business Office, but that's because the organizers are "cheating" by pushing the damages out by a few more years, top Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber said Saturday.
"It's not better than the House bill," the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor told MSNBC. "It's just cheating, taking advantage of the fact that the CBO is a 10-year window."
The CBO has already predicted that the House version of the American Health Care Act will cause 23 million more people to be uninsured by 2026, while cutting the deficit by $119 billion over that time period. The Senate's version is considered less drastic, and likely to receive as bad a score.
However, Gruber said he expects the score, due out next week, to be "horrific."
"The CBO score will be horrible but it won't be as bad as the House bill because the Senate is cheating by pushing the damage out by a few years," said Gruber.
Meanwhile, premiums were going up under Obamacare, but healthcare premiums will always rise, said Gruber.
"The question is, what happens to the growth rate?" said Gruber. "Under Obamacare, healthcare premiums have grown at their slowest rate in measured history in the United States.
But while many people are pointing to how premiums in the Obamacare exchanges have blown up, they still did not grow like they did before the Affordable Care Act was passed, Gruber insisted.
"Under [former President Barack] Obama, healthcare premiums in the exchanges, even when you include last year's big increases, rose 7 percent a year, compared to 12 percent a year before Obamacare passed," said Gruber. "Obamacare was working, it was bringing health care costs under control."
Further, Gruber said the Senate bill is "not good for young people," as they, like older people, will eventually get sick.
"Young people will face the risk of catastrophic illness," said Gruber. "When they do, they'll find there's no coverage there for them and no way to get that insurance."
Most people, he continued, are "just one banana peel slip away" from major medical expenses, even though young people don't typically get ill, so they also need insurance.
Meanwhile, Americans don't like that insurers had been able to refuse to provide coverage to people who are already ill, but by allowing people to wait until they're sick to buy coverage and rejecting a mandate to require coverage, "insurers will go out of business," said Gruber.
"This is not just some theoretical economic conjecture," he said. "Five states tried this experiment. They tried telling insurers, you can't discriminate against the sick, without the mandate. And in every single state, the insurance market collapsed. And that's what will happen here."
Meanwhile, several insurers have left the states where they provided coverage, but that doesn't mean the whole system has failed, Gruber insisted.
"Has the Internet failed?" he said. "No, the Internet has been successful. Have there been millions and millions of Internet companies that have gone out of business? Yes. The fact that there are insurers leaving the exchanges doesn't prove a failure, it just proves it's a new dynamic market."
The market had been fragile, he continued, but it was going to work, but then President Donald Trump got elected.
"It was going to work until Trump got elected," said Gruber. "Before President Trump got elected, there was nowhere in the country where you could not buy insurance on the exchanges. Only since Trump got elected that we're finding these hot spots where people can't buy health insurance. It's a tough new market...the market was fragile, because but it was growing and it was going to work until Trump destroyed it."
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