IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump's former HHS secretary condemns key Republican health care policy

As Tom Price effectively admits he was wrong about the individual mandate, the GOP's defense of their health care efforts just got a whole lot more difficult.
Image: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Holds Press Briefing At White House
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price compares a copy of the Affordable Care Act (R) and a copy of the new House...

One of the most damaging aspects of the Republican tax plan has to do with, of all things, health care. GOP lawmakers included a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate in the tax package -- a detail Donald Trump routinely brags about.

Indeed, as recently as this past weekend at his campaign rally in Michigan, the president argued that by scrapping the Obamacare mandate, he's "essentially gotten rid" of the health care reform law.

In reality, that's obviously foolish. What Trump and congressional Republicans actually did was leave the ACA in place while making health care coverage more expensive. Within the industry, this observation is common knowledge.

What no one expected was for former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to acknowledge this reality freely and in public. USA Today  reported today:

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Tuesday that repealing the requirement that all Americans have health insurance or face a tax penalty, may not have been such a good idea after all. [...]"There are many, and I'm one of them, who believes ... you'll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market," Price said during the World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., according to The Washington Times.

Price, a former far-right congressman from Georgia, was Trump's first HHS secretary, before he was forced to resign over a series of taxpayer-financed chartered flights.

And at face value, when someone with Price's background and ideology denounces a key health care goal from his own party, it's a big deal. What makes this an even bigger deal, however, is what Tom Price used to say about the same subject.

In fact, it was just last year, during the GOP repeal effort, when Price insisted the mandate was "driving up the cost" of insurance. That was ridiculous at the time, and nine months later, the former Trump cabinet secretary is effectively admitting that he got it backwards.

Tom Price 2017 was wrong; Tom Price 2018 is right. Indeed, the former HHS secretary is now acknowledging what the Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers last year.

Complicating matters for the right is the fact the evidence pointing to the adverse effects of Republican policymaking is increasingly obvious: "The number of Americans without health insurance is creeping back up, after seeing a big drop once the Affordable Care Act took effect, according to the latest tracking survey from the Commonwealth Fund."

The Republicans' defense of their health care efforts just got a whole lot more difficult.