As Republicans work to pitch their health care plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he can’t say how many people would lose coverage under the new legislation — and that it will be “up to people” to decide whether they want to purchase coverage.
Asked in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” approximately how many people will lose coverage if the American Health Care Act is passed, Ryan replied: “I can’t answer that question. It’s up to people.”
“Here’s the premise of your question. Are you going to stop mandating people buy health insurance,” Ryan said. “People are going to do what they want to do with their lives because we believe in individual freedom in this country.”
“So the question is: Are we providing a system where people have access to health insurance if they choose to do so?” he continued. “And the answer is yes. But are we going to have some nice-looking spreadsheet that says, ‘We, the government of the American—the United States, are going to make people buy something and therefore they’re all going to buy it’? No.”
Ryan said he believes the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the bill, which will be available before members vote on it, will find that some Americans will lose coverage.
“The one thing I’m certain will happen is CBO will say, ‘Well, gosh. Not as many people will get coverage,’” he said. “You know why? Because this isn’t a government mandate. This is not the government that makes you buy what we say you should buy and therefore the government thinks you’re all going to buy it.”
“So there’s no way you can compete with on paper a government mandate with coverage,” he continued. “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.”
Still, Ryan promised there would be a “smooth transition” between the current system and the new system so people don’t feel like they’re having “the rug pulled out from under them.”