Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday rejected the CBO's cost estimate of healthcare repeal as "garbage in, garbage out."
McCain said the Congressional Budget Office estimate that repealing the healthcare law would increase the deficit by $230 billion relies on falwed assumptions.
"So what I'm saying is, garbage in, garbage out," McCain said on the Senate floor.
McCain cited two examples of how the CBO's estimate is not properly taking into account the true costs of the healthcare law. First, he noted that the repeated increases in reimbursement levels to Medicare physicians, and the failure to repeatedly let cuts to those payments happen, are estimated to cost $208 billion over 10 years. "Nowhere is that put into the equation," McCain said.
He also criticized the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, a long-term care insurance program that was part of the law. While the program allows for employees to contribute to it, many Republicans believe it will have to be funded by the government at some point, and that this assumption is not being taken into account by CBO.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) was outraged by McCain's comments.
"I heard CBO criticized and be dismissed," she said. "But yet it was the Republican party that said we couldn't move anything, bring up anything, even go get a Kleenex without getting a CBO score. Now they don't want a CBO score? So you can't say 'I want a CBO score' one day, and then make fun of it the next, 'garbage in, garbage out.' "
The Senate is expected to vote tonight on an amendment to repeal last year's healthcare law, although Democrats are expected to defeat it. The proposal was put forward by Republicans last night as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill.