Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary under President Trump, suggested on Sunday that the nation’s health insurance system just needed to “dust off how they did business before Obamacare.”
Price appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and said that insurance companies should operate just as it did before the Affordable Care Act was passed. He responded to the intense criticism of Senate Republicans and their new health care bill by two major groups that represent the U.S. health insurance industry. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) earlier this week, the groups referred to the latest Republican version of the bill as “simply unworkable in any form.” They warned that it would cause “widespread terminations of coverage” to people with serious medical issues.
Price recoiled: “It’s really perplexing, especially from the insurance companies, because all they have to do is dust off how they did business before Obamacare,” Price said, referring to an amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would allow insurers to resume sales of policies that leave out key benefits, such as prescription drugs or mental health treatment.
“A single risk pool, which is what they’re objecting to, is exactly the kind of process that was ― that has been utilized for decades to care for individuals,” he added.
The two groups in question that wrote the letter are America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of America. They say that the new bill would discriminate among customers based on medical status and cause premiums for people with pre-existing conditions to increase dramatically.
This kind of candor is unusual from Republican leaders because the period before Obamacare was filled with significant insurance abuses. The public remains focused on protections for pre-existing conditions and GOP lawmakers don’t want to admit that their legislation could bring abuses back. Before Obamacare, 79 million (that’s one in four) Americans either lacked insurance or were underinsured.
Price did contend that the Trump administration would take further actions on health care and that the Senate health care bill is “not the entire plan.”
“What we’re going over at Health and Human Services is going through all the rules and regulations that were promulgated pursuant to the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “Those places where it said the secretary shall or secretary may, 1,442 times, and we’re looking at those and asking the question does this help patients or does it harm patients? Does it increase costs or does it decrease costs? And where the answer is wrong, we’re going to move it in a much better direction.”
So if I’m reading between the lines it appears that the Trump Administration is laying the ground work for a straight repeal of the ACA, and put high risks people into a pool for subsidies. Why would I say that? That is the second time in seven days that talking point for “insurance companies to do things like before” has been mentioned.
What do you think about Price’s logic? Are you surprised by his candor?
Credit: Huffington Post