"We disagree strenuously with the report that was put out," HHS Secretary Tom Price told reporters at the White House after the CBO score was released on the GOP health care plan.
Price argued that the CBO report looked "at a portion of our plan, but not the entire plan." He explained that HHS can employ the "regulatory apparatus" to "make certain that patients are helped and that costs are decreased."
Price said CBO ignored other legislative action.
"We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and their family, not that the government forces them to buy."
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said he had not read the entire CBO report but found a bright spot. "The numbers that I've seen in the first glance is that CBO says that premiums will go down by at least 10 percent."
A reporter noted that CBO got to that figure by estimating that fewer older Americans would get coverage but Price waved that away, again saying CBO did not take into account the full plan for repeal and replace. "The fact of the matter is, we're working on the regulations right now."
Asked about the report's finding that 14 million more people would be left without insurance next year, Price said it's "virtually impossible to have that number occur."
Reporter: So CBO is wrong, they are not credible?
"Well, you just look at the numbers," Price said. "There are 8-9 million people who are on the exchange currently. I'm not sure how they are going to get 14 million people uninsured, if that's what they say, with only 8 million people on the exchange.
"They are individuals, I guess that they assume that are on Medicaid who aren't paying anything in the Medicaid system who are not going to take the Medicaid policy just because the mandate ended or something happened. It's just not believable is what we would suggest. We'll look at the numbers and see."
Reporter: Without that mandate to buy coverage, wouldn't you concede there will be millions of uninsured?
"No, I wouldn't concede that at all," Price said. "The fact of the matter is they are going to be able to a coverage policy that they want for themselves and for their family. They are going to have the kind of choices that they want. ... So we think that CBO simply has it wrong."
Mulvaney echoed those points, criticizing CBO for assuming Medicaid changes will happen "on day one. It's just absurd."