Republican leaders tried to soften the blow from a damaging nonpartisan report slamming their proposed Obamacare replacement plan yesterday, with the White House contesting an estimate that some 14 million more people will be uninsured next year.

Because the Republican replacement plan does away with Obamacare penalties for being uninsured, some people — who only signed up to avoid paying the fines — will simply choose not to have insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Others won’t be able to afford higher premiums.

By 2026, some 24 million more people will be uninsured compared with the number projected for that year under Obamacare, bringing the total number of uninsured Americans to 52 million, according to the CBO’s report.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News last night that the report “exceeded my expectations,” as he sought to focus on the bright side of the GOP plan, which ditches the Obamacare penalties.

“We’re saying the government’s not going to force people to buy something that they don’t want to buy,” said Ryan. “And if we end an Obamacare mandate that says you must buy this government, one-size-fits-all plan, guess what? People aren’t going to buy that.”

But Ryan also claimed health care would become more affordable, because premiums would go down under their plan. That’s partially true, according to the CBO. Premiums would drop, starting in 2020, and would be 10 percent less than Obamacare premiums by 2026. But before they get there, they would spike by 15 percent to 20 percent in 2018 and 2019, according to the report.

The GOP plan would also cut $337 billion from the federal deficit by 2026.

While Ryan defended the numbers, the Trump White House cast doubt on them, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price calling the claim that 14 million more people would be uninsured “just not believable.”

Even before the numbers were released, the Trump administration sought to soften the impact of the report. White House press secretary Sean Spicer last week claimed the CBO was off on its Obamacare forecasts.

President Trump yesterday — before the report dropped — blamed the media for making Obamacare “look so wonderful.”

“It’s a little bit like President Obama,” the president added. “When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn’t like him so much. That’s the way life goes. It’s human nature. The fact is, Obamacare is a disaster.”

Democrats quickly pounced on the findings, and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it “heartless” and “irresponsible.”

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