In his carefully calibrated testimony before House appropriators, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price made one thing clear Wednesday: The administration is still intent on dismantling parts of the Affordable Care Act even if Republicans lack the votes to rewrite it.
Time and time again, Price invoked the pledge he has made repeatedly to lawmakers since President Trump selected him for his post. “What we’re committed to is making sure the American people have access to affordable coverage,” he told Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education, and related agencies.
But under intense questioning from Democrats, Price outlined how his department could make insurance plans cheaper by scaling back several federal mandates, including what the ACA currently defines as “essential benefits” in coverage. And he refused to say whether the administration will keep providing cost-sharing subsidies for insurers participating in the federal marketplace. The multibillion-dollar infusion is critical to maintaining the system’s stability, insurers say.
At one point, DeLauro asked Price whether the administration wanted to “repeal or strengthen and improve” the 2010 health-care law.
“We believe that the current law has harmed many individuals,” the secretary said.
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