>> The Republican plan to replace Obamacare passes its first test on Capitol Hill. This has backers take on the bureaucrats, trying to figure out how much it's all going to cost. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where the non-partisan scorekeepers at the congressional budget office are busy crunching the numbers on House Speaker Paul Ryan's new healthcare bill.
The one that would replace President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Their report could make or break this bill. If they find that it would blow up the budget, conservatives might abandon ship. Whereas, if they decide that millions would lose coverage, more centrist Republicans might cut and run. Trying to get a jump, some Republicans, including White House Spokesman Sean Spicer, already dismissing the CBO's report before it's even written.
>> If you're looking to the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place. I mean, they were way, way off last time in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare.>> In a world of partisan spin, the Congressional Budget Office is widely seen as a neutral scorekeeper that tracks how much the federal government is spending.
>> Expect at the beginning of next week, I think, no later than sometime early next week, we'll get the score.>> Independent analysts are already predicting the CBO will come back with numbers that Republicans won't like. One analysis suggesting the new plan could increase insurance costs for the average American by more than $1,500 a year.
Ryan also has to contend with conservative groups who dismissed the plan as Obamacare Light. Also hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies, all saying they can't support the bill as it's currently written, on the grounds that it could make health care unaffordable. Despite that, the legislation advancing Thursday, winning approval from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
>> This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.>> But in the end they'll have a hard time marginalizing the budget office. CBO director Keith Hall was appointed by Republicans, he was championed by the man who will oversee the health plan's rollout. Former Congressman Tom Pryce, who now serves as President Trump's Health Secretary.
When Hall releases this report, you can bet plenty of people in Washington will be reading it cover to cover.