US Rep. Richard Neal slams findings in CBO's Senate health care bill analysis

June 27, 2017
In The News

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, continued to push back Tuesday against Republican-led efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, taking issue with findings included in the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's recent score of a Senate GOP health care plan.

The congressman, during a morning news conference, blasted CBO's assertion that 22 million Americans would lose health insurance under the legislation, calling the so-called "Better Care Reconciliation Act" a "tax cut disguised as a health reform bill" and arguing that it's similar to the House-passed American Health Care Act.

Neal further criticized CBO estimates suggesting that the Senate GOP plan would cut $772 billion from Medicaid -- a program which he argued pays for a large portion of nursing home care and opioid addiction treatments.

"CBO is an independent referee and they have concluded, in this instance, 22 million people lose health insurance. This is really cleverly a tax cut disguised as a health reform bill," he told reporters. "It cuts ($772) billion from Medicaid - the House plan cut $840 billion - and those are on top of the additional cuts that President (Donald) Trump has proposed that would take it to $1.4 trillion. All for the purpose of changing the baseline to allow for a huge tax cut at the top."

Contending that Senate Republicans have taken an "already 'mean' bill and made it even meaner," U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, on Thursday criticized the newest GOP plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Arguing that Medicaid has become more of a middle class entitlement in recent decades, Neal cautioned that passing the House or Senate GOP health care bills could lead to increased uncompensated care in emergency rooms and higher costs associated with treating opioid abuse.

Despite the CBO's findings, the congressman offered that some senators may be undeterred in their efforts to advance the bill ahead of the chamber's upcoming legislative recess.

Pushback from some Republican members and governors, however, could impact whether the health care plan moves ahead as is, he offered.

"When the tax cut becomes the end all, when that becomes the desirable goal, sometimes it's difficult to move them off the dime," he said. "But, I think in this instance, if you have a population that has high health care needs, as is the case in Ohio and is the case is Wisconsin, I think that (U.S. Sen.) Susan Collins in Maine has led the way by saying that this is going to curtail and cut benefits for people in nursing homes, it's going to cut opiate treatment and it, just as importantly, will subtract from the Medicare trust fund."

Neal also praised Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for pushing back against the Senate health care bill, saying he "wisely has pointed out that this proposal would cut billions of dollars from health care in Massachusetts."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker cautioned that a health care bill proposed by U.S. Senate Republicans would cost 264,000 state residents their health coverage.

Baker has argued that the Senate GOP health care bill could have a cumulative negative impact of more than $8.2 billion on Massachusetts by 2025 and kick 264,000 state residents off their health coverage.

Officials with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, Massachusetts Medical Society and Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization have also expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the Senate bill's proposed Medicaid program changes and funding cuts, elimination of ACA coverage mandates and other things.

The CBO released an analysis of the Senate health care plan Monday, which found that the bill, if enacted, would reduce the federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $321 billion and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million as of 2026.