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The CBO is weatherproofing their house for the impending storm of bullsh*t

3/22/17: Now that the GOP is apparently going to try and cram through killing off Essential Health Benefits and so forth in the #Trumpcare bill after all, it seems like a good time to repost this.

George Orwell, 1984:

But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

For example, the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.

Me, last Friday:

The GOP's "solution" to this--as far as I can tell, because they haven't actually said what their "replacement" plan would or wouldn't include--is to strip away some, most or potentially all of those coverage requirements, bringing things back to the days of "Mini-Meds":

For example, McDonald’s”McCrew Care” benefits...requires employees to pay $56 per month for basic coverage that provides up to $2,000 in benefits in a year and $97 per months for a Mid 5 plan that provides up to $5,000 in benefits. Ruby Tuesday charges workers $18.43 per week (going down to $7 after six months of service) for coverage that provides up to $1,250 in outpatient care per year and $3,000 in inpatient hospital care. Denny’s basic plan for hourly employees in 2010 provided no coverage for inpatient hospital care and capped coverage for doctor office visits at $300 per year.

Wow, $2,000 in benefits per year? Awesome! That's enough to cover...um...one day in the hospital per year, and absolutely nothing else whatsoever!

"Mini-meds" are otherwise known as "Junk Policies", as noted from this pre-ACA exchange ABC News article from 2012.

The United States Congressional Budget Office, today (h/t Larry Levitt):

Some policymakers have expressed interest in developing proposals to replace the current tax-based subsidies for the purchase of private health insurance in the nongroup (or individual) market under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with refundable tax credits that would be structured differently from those under current law. Many such proposals would also eliminate or reduce the extent of current federal laws regulating the nongroup market, particularly the rules governing health insurance benefits. Two key questions for policymakers in developing such proposals are what type of insurance products would qualify for tax credits and what role states would have in making that determination.

...In response to a future policy that had minimal federal or state regulations, CBO and JCT expect that some new insurance products would be offered that limited coverage to the amount of the tax credit. Some of those insurance products purchased by people using a tax credit would probably not offer much financial protection against high out-of-pocket costs. Depending on the size of the tax credit, however, the depth and extent of coverage and the premiums of plans could vary. As discussed in another blog post about how CBO defines and estimates coverage, CBO does not count plans that have very limited benefits in measuring the extent of private insurance coverage; in such an assessment, it counts only people with a comprehensive major medical policy as having private insurance.

Under such proposals, CBO and JCT would separately estimate the number of people who would receive the tax credits and, if policymakers expressed interest in such estimates, the number of people who would purchase private insurance in the nongroup market that met a broad definition of coverage. In that case, the latter estimate of the number of people with coverage would probably be smaller than the estimate of the number of people who would receive the tax credit.

SHORTER CBO: When Donald Trump and Paul Ryan start lying about having "insured" eleventybillion more people for 1/10th of the cost of the ACA, don't expect us to back up your nonsense.