Trump's former top health official just broke with him on the GOP's biggest move to undercut Obamacare

  • Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s former Health and Human Services Secretary, said the GOP’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was a bad thing for insurance markets.
  • Price’s statement broke from the traditional Republican position and contradicts previous statements Price made during the Obamacare repeal push in 2017.

Tom Price, the former Health and Human Services Secretary under President Donald Trump, criticised a key Republican change to Obamacare during a speech Tuesday.

Speaking at the World Health Care Congress, Price suggested the Republican Party’s repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate – the requirement to buy insurance or face a penalty – was a faulty idea. He said it would drive up costs for people in the individual insurance marketplace.

“There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that 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, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,” Price said, according to the Washington Times.

Price’s argument echoes that of many health policy experts. Without a mandate to compel younger, healthier people to sign up for coverage, many are projected drop out of the Obamacare marketplaces. That would leave a pool of older, sicker people in those marketplaces that cost more for insurers to cover. To offset the higher costs, insurers would be forced to increase premiums.

Though most people in the marketplaces would not see their premiums go up due to federal subsidies, those families who don’t qualify for subsidies could see costs soar. In turn, many people could drop coverage due to the increased expenses, a report from the Congressional Budget Office has shown.

The mandate was repealed as part of the Republican tax law that passed in December.

While Price’s analysis on Tuesday is in line with many healthcare experts, it contradicts not only the Republican party’s position on mandate repeal, but also Price’s own statements from 2017.

“The individual mandate is actually one of those things that is driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage,” Price said in July 2017, in the midst of the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare.

Price resigned as HHS secretary in September after extensive reporting on his use of private air travel. According to records, Price cost taxpayers more than $US1 million between his use of private planes for domestic travel and military jets for recent trips to Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Price’s comments were the second in as many days from Republicans sounding a critical tone on the tax law. Sen. Marc Rubio, a Florida Republican, said in an interview published Monday that there was “no evidence” any of the law’s provisions have benefited average workers.

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