Do We Need Transparency at the CBO

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from the Washington Examiner:

Mick Mulvaney isn’t pleased with the power wielded by his competitor, the Congressional Budget Office. You can chalk that up in part to a natural rivalry between the CBO and Mulvaney’s Office of Management and Budget, which is an arm of the White House. Mulvaney also highlights some reasons everyone concerned with good policy should want reform at CBO.

“At some point, you’ve got to ask yourself, has the day of the CBO come and gone?” Mulvaney told the Washington Examiner‘s writers and editors in a recent meeting at the White House complex. Mulvaney specifically tore into a CBO staffer who helped give the Republican healthcare bill a bad score.

“We’re hearing now that the person in charge of the American Health Care Act methodology is an alum of the ‘Hillarycare’ program in the 1990s who was brought in by Democrats to score the ACA.”

There’s no need to ascribe partisanship or even ideological bias to see a problem with the CBO’s score of the AHCA. Health policy experts have noted many of the CBO’s curious judgments. Mulvaney, for his part, pointed to the odd assumption that the number of Medicaid recipients — low-income people who get healthcare at no cost, and could still get Medicaid under the AHCA — would drop out of Medicaid because the AHCA would repeal the individual mandate.

Does the CBO think Medicaid recipients would quit the program once the mandate was gone? Or is it assuming fewer new people will sign up? (In which case it’s a stretch to call them uncovered, because they would automatically be enrolled in Medicaid once they show up at a doctor’s office.) We don’t know. So when the CBO says 23 million Americans will lose coverage under the AHCA, we don’t know whether this based on an undue faith in mandates.

And that’s the problem.

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