House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview with Face the Nation host John Dickerson, said he couldn’t answer the question of how many people will lose coverage under the GOP’s new healthcare plan – because that’s not the point. 

‘I can’t answer that question,’ he said. ‘It’s up to people.’ 

Ryan said he was expecting the Congressional Budget Office to release its score of the plan early this week, and he fully expected the CBO to say ‘Not as many people will get coverage.’

‘You know why?’ Ryan asked Dickerson. ‘Because this isn’t a government mandate. This is not the government makes you buy what we say you should buy and therefore the government thinks you’re all going to buy it.’ 

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House Speaker Paul Ryan explained why the new GOP healthcare law can't be compared to Obamacare in the number of people covered

House Speaker Paul Ryan explained why the new GOP healthcare law can’t be compared to Obamacare in the number of people covered

Face the Nation host John Dickerson (left) sat down with House Speaker Paul Ryan (right) this weekend and asked him about how many Americans could lose their coverage under the GOP health plan 

Face the Nation host John Dickerson (left) sat down with House Speaker Paul Ryan (right) this weekend and asked him about how many Americans could lose their coverage under the GOP health plan 

The country’s current health insurance law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, mandates that people get covered, or they must pay a tax penalty.

Republicans want to kill off this mandate as they seek to repeal and replace the law. 

The legislation calls for swapping out the current Obamacare subsidies with tax credits, expanding health savings accounts and phasing out a planned expansion of Medicaid. 

Conservative Republicans are calling the new bill ‘Obamacare Lite,’ as they are against tax credits, as it will add to the government’s healthcare tab, and want Medicaid phased out faster.

Republicans have already been muddying the waters in regards to the forthcoming CBO estimate. 

‘If you’re looking to the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,’ said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at a press briefing last week. 

Spicer, along with White House Office of Management and Budget Mike Mulvaney, noted that the CBO had been off about how many people would receive healthcare under the Obamacare law. 

‘If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are,’ Mulvaney said today on ABC’s This Week. ‘Sometimes we ask them to do stuff they’re not capable of doing, and estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn’t the best use of their time.’ 

Politifact rated Mulvaney’s statement half true, as he was correct that the Obamacare forecast by the CBO, which is nonpartisan, was off – with fewer people covered than originally expected. 

Though the healthcare law met its goal of significantly decreasing the number of Americans without health insurance, with the number of uninsured hitting a historic low, ‘which is what occurred,’ Politifact noted. 

The CBO also couldn’t predict that the Supreme Court would decide to allow states to choose whether they wanted the Medicaid expansion that came as part of Obamacare. 

Since 2010, 19 states have declined the program, which would have allowed more people to be insured.  

Because Americans will no longer be forced to buy insurance, House Speaker Ryan said it’s near impossible to compare the existing law with the proposed new one.

‘What we are trying to achieve here is bringing down the cost of care, bringing down the cost of insurance not through government mandates and monopolies but by having more choice and competition,’ he said. 

‘And by lowering the cost of health care you improve the access to health care. And by having things that we’re talking about, tax credits, risk pools, health savings accounts, you dramatically increase the access to health care,’ the speaker continued. 

‘But we’re not going to make an American do what they don’t want to do. You get it if you want it,’ he said. ‘That’s freedom.’

Ryan brushed off the bevvy of criticism being thrown at the draft legislation, with the AARP, the American Hospital Association, and a number of Republican lawmakers speaking out against it this week. 

‘I wouldn’t say the reaction’s been awful,’ Ryan said.  ‘When you’re a governing party getting consensus among your wide, big tent party, not – everybody doesn’t get what they want. But we’re getting much better policy here.’

He repeated a much repeated Republican taking point – that Obamacare is ‘collapsing’ – and pushed back when Dickerson pointed to remarks made by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ala., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who both think the bill is being pushed through the House too fast. 

‘That’s actually really puzzling to me,’ Ryan said. ‘Why go so fast? Let me see. We ran for repeal and replace in 2010. We ran on repeal and replace in 2012, in 2014, in 2016.’

‘Oh, by the way, we spent six months last year developing a replacement plan. We ran on that replacement plan,’ he added. 

Ryan said he agreed with President Trump’s assessment that the Republican Party would be hit hard in the midterm elections if they didn’t follow through with their repeal and replace campaign promise. 

Trump predicted it could be a ‘bloodbath.’ 

‘I do believe that if we don’t keep our word to the people who sent us here, yeah,’ Ryan said. 

Cotton said he believed the GOP would be punished at the ballot box if the House gave the Senate a healthcare bill Republicans there couldn’t pass, referring to the proposed legislation in its current form. 

‘Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote,’ Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, said. ‘If they vote for this bill, they’re going to put the House majority at risk next year.’   

The House Speaker said he believed he could find 51 Republicans in the Senate to vote for the bill, once is passes the House. 

The legislation made it through two committees this week. 

‘This is historic, and it’s significant,’ Ryan touted. ‘And if we don’t act, the system’s going to collapse,’ he pointed out. 

‘And the beautiful thing about this plan that we’re proposing, it’s more freedom. It’s more choices. It’s more markets. It’s lower prices, which gets us better access,’ he said.