Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price on Sunday defended the House Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act while doubling down on President Donald Trump’s promise to make health insurance available to everyone.
Price on Sunday morning talk shows said the American Health Care Act scheduled to be voted on Thursday in the House is just the first of three steps to expand access to health insurance, along with administrative rules and legislation to make coverage more affordable.
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A Congressional Budget Office analysis estimated that by 2026, 24 million Americans likely would lose coverage under the bill.
“Every single American will have access to affordable coverage that works for them,” said Price on CNN’s “State of the Union,” reiterating one of Trump’s campaign promises. “The president is committed to that, as am I and those of us at the Department of Health and Human Services.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that she believes the bill is a $600 billion transfer of wealth to the rich from middle- and working-class Americans. She took a shot at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“Robin Hood in reverse. Some people call it Ryan Hood,” she said. “But this is Trump. Republicans will find any excuse to pull money up to the high end, at the expense of the working class.”
“Four Republican governors penned a letter expressing concern about the American Health Care Act, saying it didn’t provide enough flexibility or resources on Medicaid and failed to keep promises made by Trump.
Price said on CNN the letter and analysis did not recognize follow-up steps: “What they’re looking at is not the [whole] plan.”
Ryan said he liked the chances of the new health care bill’s passage at the scheduled House floor vote on Thursday.
“I feel very good about it, actually. I feel like it’s exactly where we want to be,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Price also expressed confidence about the bill’s chances, though he acknowledged that concessions made to win support in the House might cost it votes in the Senate. “It’s a fine needle that needs to be thread, there’s no doubt about it,” he said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
One of the bill’s most outspoken conservative critics in the Senate, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), said the legislation is “fixable, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”
The current plan “isn’t going to work to bring down premiums,” he told CNN.
Meanwhile, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney defended the administration’s budget, which has been criticized for deep cuts to programs including Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to seniors.
On NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Mulvaney said news reports about proposed budget cuts that could hurt some of Trump’s working-class base are “grossly wrong or nearly grossly wrong.”
The administration seeks to drop the block grants that states use to fund Meals on Wheels, but the budget director said such funding accounts for only 3 percent of the program’s financing.
He repeated that the budget has taxpayers’ interests at heart: “Not just the compassion in terms of where the money goes, but the compassion in terms of where the money comes from.”
Pelosi on CBS paired Mulvaney’s characterization of the budget proposal with Ryan’s description of the health care bill as an “act of mercy.”
“Compassionate acts of mercy?” she asked. “I don’t know what faith that is.”