Ryan: GOP Goal is Not Universal Health Insurance


In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to wrangle control of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace messaging with a clarification on one of the left’s most persistent criticisms. Instead of trying to argue that more Americans will be covered by the American Health Care Act, Ryan explained that the GOP’s goal was not to compete with Obamacare in terms of how many people have health insurance.

Asked how many people would lose their insurance coverage under the new law, Ryan said, “I can’t answer that question. It’s up to people.”

Ryan explained that the question was not relevant to the Republican strategy.

“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.”

Ryan said that any Democrats who pointed to analyses from S&P Global or the Congressional Budget Office were missing the point of what Republicans were trying to do. Because while those reports would inevitably prove that less people would have health insurance under the GOP plan, they would not prove that the AHCA had “stolen” insurance coverage from those people.

“It’s not our job to make people do something that they don’t want to do,” Ryan said. “It is our job to have a system where people can get universal access to affordable coverage if they choose to do so or not. That’s what we’re going to be accomplishing.

“The one thing I’m certain will happen is CBO will say, ‘Well, gosh, not as many people will get coverage.’ You know why? Because this isn’t a government mandate,” Ryan continued.

This is a message that Ryan and Republicans need to hammer over and over again. There are legitimate reasons to criticize this bill, but “this many Americans will lose health insurance coverage” is not necessarily one of them. Republicans aren’t ripping anyone’s insurance away; they are returning choice to the American public. Of course you’re going to have fewer people insured if the government isn’t penalizing you for going without!

There are millions of people right now buying health insurance they don’t want or need. It’s no point in Obamacare’s favor if those people decide to drop their coverage once the individual mandate is repealed. In fact, it just goes to show how many people were coerced into getting something they didn’t want.

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