The latest iteration of the Senate Republicans’ health care plan includes a provision from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which would do systemic harm to Americans with pre-existing conditions. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl brought up the subject yesterday with HHS Secretary Tom Price, and the Republican’s response was probably more candid than he intended.
KARL: There’s no doubt there’s significant problems with the current system. But if you look at the Republican plan to modify it and replace it, more than 10 medical groups are against it. Thirty-two cancer organizations oppose it. And on Thursday, in a rare joint statement by the biggest insurance companies in the country, called the Cruz Amendment unworkable in any form and warned it would lead to, quote, “widespread terminations of coverage.” So, Dr. Price, why this wall of opposition?
PRICE: It’s really perplexing, especially from the insurance companies, because all they have to do is dust off how they did business before Obamacare.
Well, yes, I suppose that’s true, but it’s not much of a selling point. Price, a former far-right congressman before joining the Trump administration, is effectively admitting that he and other Republicans hope to turn back the clock to before the Affordable Care Act took effect.
For Price, the solution is apparently easy: private insurers can simply “dust off” their old policies, back when Americans with pre-existing conditions were screwed.
To a very real extent, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is making the same argument as health-care advocates who oppose the GOP legislation. Patient advocates have insisted that the Republican plan in general, and the Cruz amendment in specific, would return the country to the bad ol’ days.
To which Price effectively suggested to a national television audience yesterday, “Yep, that’s the plan.”
In a separate interview yesterday, the HHS secretary added that under his party’s proposal, “we’re gonna be able to cover more individuals on this bill than are currently covered.”
Even by 2017 standards, such brazen lying really is breathtaking. The most recent estimate from the Congressional Budget Office found that the legislation Price is touting would push 22 million Americans into the ranks of the uninsured.
So, either Trump’s HHS secretary has no idea what he’s talking about while defending the health care overhaul he supports, or he told a plainly ridiculous falsehood.