Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican congressman from (of course) Texas, took to the House floor on Tuesday to show off his elite mathematical skills. Apparently his cell phone doesn’t even have a calculator because he got this one wildly off the mark while trying to make a political point:
“If you just do simple multiplication, 12 million [insured individuals] into $108 billion, we are talking literally every single [Obamacare] recipient would be costing this government more than $5 million per person for their insurance. It’s staggering….$108 billion for 12 million people is immoral. It’s unconscionable.”
Glenn Kessler notes that he’s wrong in premise, conclusion and basic math:
First of all, let’s start with the numbers that Sessions cited on the floor. He claimed that the cost of insuring 12 million people would be $108 billion. Then he did some “simple multiplication” and came up with a figure of $5 million per newly insured person.
Actually, if you divide $108 billion by 12 million, you end up with $9,000 a person. That’s a pretty big difference. We might understand why $5 million would be “immoral” or “unconscionable,” as Sessions thundered in his speech, but it turns out to be less than 1/500th of that amount.
None of Sessions’ numbers make much sense, however. The Congressional Budget Office, in a March report, said that the cost of coverage in fiscal 2016 for Obamacare (in the exchanges and Medicaid expansion) would be $95 billion, after penalty payments and other revenue. But the reduction in the number of uninsured Americans would be 23 million people.
So if you do the math correctly, that’s a cost of $4,130 per uninsured individual in 2016. So that’s less than half the figure that would have resulted from properly dividing Sessions’ numbers.
So he contacted Sessions’ office for an explanation and he still got the math wrong:
After we contacted Sessions’ office and asked for an explanation, the lawmaker called The Fact Checker and said he had gotten his numbers mixed up. He said that he meant to say that Obamacare had cost $1.2 trillion over the past three years, and yet had only covered 20 million people. (He noted that he is not counting revenues that offset some of the cost.)
That would be $60,000 an insured person.
Must be some of that creationist math they teach down in the Lone Star state.