Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price admitted that withholding Obamacare subsidy payments would hurt a lot of people. But he seemed unwilling to admit that this is exactly what Donald Trump is threatening to do.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price admitted that Donald Trump's petulant threat to halt payments for Obamacare subsidies would harm, rather than help, people.
Price, a former Republican congressman, has been the administration's point person on their failed attempt to repeal health care reform.
On ABC's This Week, Price was asked by host Martha Raddatz about Trump's threat after Congress failed to "let Obamacare implode." Halting the federal government's payments of approximately $8 billion to insurers subsidizing coverage for low-income patients would clearly cause widespread, untold harm.
But despite Trump's very public statement, and Raddatz pushing back on him, Price insisted, "I think what the president said is, it's not the right thing to do because it hurts people."
RADDATZ: Is he going to let it implode, or as he says, is he going to do the right thing for the American people?
PRICE: No, I think what the president said is that it's not the right thing to do because it hurts people. Again, the president's passion about this is that he understands that this system may be working for Washington, it may be working for insurance companies, but it's not working for patients. And that's where his passion is. That's why he keeps coming back to this and saying, "Look, Senate, do your job. Congress, do your job, you've said for seven years that you're going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now get to work and get it done."
RADDATZ: But this week he said he was going to let it implode. Is that what he's going to do?
PRICE: No, I think, again, that that punctuates the concern that he has about getting this moved in the right direction.
Raddatz tried to press Price on the gigantic gulf between what he was claiming and what Trump has threatened. But Price offered a weak response, simply repeating that the Trump threat simply "punctuates the concern that [Trump] has about getting this moved in the right direction."
Recent history has shown that Trump is more than willing to sabotage the health insurance of Americans. Along with his Republican allies in Congress, Trump has generated extreme uncertainty in the insurance industry about where subsidy payments will come from.
This led to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield leaving 18 counties in Ohio, which led to 10,500 people being left high and dry for their insurance coverage. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called out Trump at the time for playing a "dangerous game" with people's health. Similar threats have impacted the insurance markets in Iowa and Nevada.
And as the Kaiser Family Foundation noted, the cessation of cost-sharing subsidy payments would cause premiums on "silver" plans to skyrocket by anywhere from 15 percent to 21 percent:
Without #ACA cost-sharing subsidy payments, insurers would need to raise silver premiums 19% on average https://t.co/i6BXxEHeho pic.twitter.com/9uGDYIWtdX
— Kaiser Family Found (@KaiserFamFound) July 29, 2017
Trump's childish threats could hurt millions, but his top officials continue to use doublespeak and falsehoods to spin his words and deflect the very real harm his plans would cause.