WASHINGTON – The Congressional Budget Office delivered some very bad news to Senate Republicans Monday afternoon: The health care plan they are trying to pass this week would cover 15 million fewer people than Obamacare next year and more than 22 million fewer people by 2026.
That’s only slightly less than the 23 million people who would lose insurance under the House-passed bill, the American Health Care Act, which President DonaldTrump has described as “mean.”
The problem for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is this: The good news in the CBO report — $321 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade — is the stuff that appeals to conservative deficit hawks, not the more moderate GOPers who have already expressed real concern over the number of people whom the House-passed bill would leave uninsured.
And it’s those more centrist Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — that McConnell needs if he wants to pass the legislation. The CBO score suggests that, in terms of the raw number of uninsured, the Senate bill is barely an improvement on the House one — which many of these centrist Republicans made clear they could not be for.
Which brings me to a new feature I am going to do every day between now and whenever we get a Senate vote on the health care bill: An emoji-based assessment of the chances of the health care legislation passing.
There are three options: 1) Smiley face (good chance of passage) 2) Meh face (50-50-ish chance) and 3) Sad face (less than 50% chance). Every day I’ll write a post with an emoji update of the bill’s chances.
Here’s the first one!
That’s right. It’s sad-faced emoji today for Senate Republicans. Any centrist Republican looking for a reason to be against this bill just got a very good one from the CBO. And more problematic is that the deficit-reduction numbers, which far outstrip the House version, are most appealing to a group of senators who are, broadly speaking, already on board with the measure.
McConnell always had to thread a needle on this bill. The CBO just made the eye of that needle even smaller.