The next big step in the badly overdue GOP plan to repeal and partially replace Obamacare is the development of a bill in the Senate. And that’s on hold until the Congressional Budget Office provides a “score” (an estimate of cost and coverage implications) of the House-passed version of the American Health Care Act (a.k.a Trumpcare). Public relations aside — no one in the Senate wants to say anything definitive about a bill that could soon look even more monstrous than the initial reports suggested — the CBO score is needed by the Senate parliamentarian before she can prepare to make judgments on proposed Senate provisions, in part because House budget savings affect what is allowable under Senate rules. So everyone’s waiting on CBO, and Republicans everywhere fear a repetition of the furor when CBO said the original Trumpcare bill would kill health coverage for 24 million Americans.
They’re going to have to wait a bit longer it seems, as CBO announced it would release its score early in the week of May 22.
As Sarah Kliff explains at Vox, CBO isn’t just being dramatic. The changes in the House bill since its first score mostly involved providing for state waivers of key Obamacare regulatory requirements. It is really difficult to estimate which states will apply for those waivers, and what precisely they will propose to substitute for the waved regs. That all takes time.
The new timetable probably means serious movement in the Senate won’t occur until June. In the meantime, Republicans across Washington should spend some time deciding whether they’ll adjust their plans in reaction to CBO, or prepare to denounce the agency, which reports to GOP congressional leaders, as a bunch of godless liberals who haven’t figured out that freedom from Obamacare’s tyranny is priceless.