To the editor:
I recently called Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ office to express my disappointment that she voted to pass the American Health Care Act (Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act) out of the House Ways and Means Committee before the Congressional Budget Office had weighed in.
CBO is the official nonpartisan “scorekeeper” for Congress. Without a CBO analysis, Jenkins didn’t know how many Kansans will gain or lose insurance, how much it will cost, etc.
Most troubling, however, was that I was told by Jenkins’ staff that it’s common for committees to vote on bills without a CBO score. This line was repeated to me — forcefully — by three different staffers in the congresswoman’s office.
I’ve been involved professionally in health policy for more than 30 years. It is simply not true that committees commonly vote on bills, especially of this magnitude, without a CBO score. I find it disheartening that Jenkins’ staff would deliberately mislead concerned constituents, many of whom may simply accept the falsehood that this vote was just business as usual.
Regardless of one’s opinion of the ACA, it went through more than a year of hearings, with changes and amendments from both Republicans and Democrats. It was scored by CBO before it received a single committee vote. Any replacement for the ACA deserves the same level of scrutiny. And all of us deserve more respect, and the truth, from our congressional representatives and their staff.