The White House hammered the Congressional Budget Office for predicting that 24 million Americans would be added to the ranks of the uninsured should Trumpcare pass. Then Politico found that White House analysis actually set the number of uninsured at 26 million. When Obamacare came into being, the number of uninsured was 57 million. The White House denied the Politico report.

Slicing and dicing

According to White House Communications Director Michael Dubke the inflated figure was the result of an effort by the Office of Management and Budget to apply the methodology of the Cbo to the Trump legislation.

Dubke told Politico it did not represent the legislation.

The White House document added up the potential coverage loss as follows: Medicaid 17 million, individual market 6 million, employer-based plans 3 million. The estimate of total uninsured in 2026 is 54 million. This is almost up to the 57 million that were uninsured before Obamacare. The Trump bill appears to radically up the number of uninsured, regardless of what spin is put on the figures.

Beyond the confusion

Aside from this flap about figures, the shape of the current healthcare story seems reasonably clear.

There is a conservative element in Congress that has no interest in how many have insurance because they believe this is a matter of individual choice. The free market premise is that people will pursue what is good for them and the market will respond by making the good available. The Affordable Care Act which became Obamacare rejected the premise and the number of insured shot up.

The prospect of losing almost all the gain in the number of insured is among the reasons there has been a virtual wall of opposition to the Trump approach. The opponents include the AMA and AARP and the US Chamber of Commerce. As with the advent of Obamacare, the parties in Congress are in no mood to unite and compromise.

There is some possibility that Trump could receive a March surprise from his right wing. No one knows at this point whether the bill will get through the House. And for Trump success would lie in silencing the objections from the Tea Party precincts.