Has Tom Price Really Started Speaking Favorably About Obamacare?

President Trump’s first HHS Secretary Tom Price who as a member of Congress (and a former physician) was a staunch opponent of Obamacare.  That was the reason Trump nominated him in the first place.


Now some are suggesting that he’s changing his tune. Slate reported that Price has started telling [what Slate believes to be] “the truth” about President Obama’s signature achievement.

It took longer than expected, but disgraced former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price appears to have been welcomed back into polite society. Untethered from the political concerns that dictated what he could say either as a congressman or Cabinet member, Price is now able to tell certain truths about health care policy—though, in telling them now, he only confirms his own dishonesty about them when it mattered.

Speaking at the World Health Care Congress on Tuesday morning, Price laid out the consequences of congressional Republicans’ decision to eliminate the individual mandate penalty in last year’s tax reform bill.

“There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that [removing the mandate] actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market,” he said, “and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market.”


Slate calls that “telling the truth about Obamacare.” What it really is is telling the truth about Republicans half-assing its repeal. “Half” may be too generous there.

Pointing out that nibbling away at a piece of a colossal bureaucratic nightmare might have a negative impact on those few people who actually benefitted from it is hardly an endorsement or reversal.

You’ve got to love the “actually” here. Actually, the mandate—an imperfect instrument—was put into the Affordable Care Act for a policy purpose. Democrats didn’t, actually, put the mandate into the bill because they found it politically wise to irritate constituents for the sport of it, actually. No, really. They actually did it to achieve balanced risk pools. And now that it’s gone, it will actually upset the balance of risk pools and increase premiums. This is an actual thing.

Even with the mandate younger people weren’t signing up in sufficient numbers to fund this botched attempt at moving America toward single payer health care. The balanced risk pools never existed and never would have because young people would rather pay a small fine than buy health coverage they don’t need. Premiums and deductibles skyrocketed for many long before the Republicans pinched off the nonexistent revenue stream.


Obamacare was a mess. Republicans have fiddled with it to make it a slightly different mess. They have all but forgotten their pledge to repeal it. They tried, failed, managed to ax the individual mandate and called it a win.  Soon after many Republicans started announcing they wouldn’t seek reelection. I’ll let you decide whether there’s a cause and effect relationship there.

It will be interesting to see how many Republicans use Obamacare as a campaign issue this year.


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