HHS Secretary On Premium Hikes For The Older: ‘Somebody’s Going To Pay’

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May 5, 2017 11:03 a.m.

The secretary of Health and Human Services dismissed concerns about older, sicker people paying much more for health insurance under Republicans’ plan on Friday, saying “somebody’s going to pay for health coverage for the American people, and the question is how do you do that.”

In an interview with “Fox & Friends,” HHS Secretary Tom Price was asked about part of Republicans’ bill that widens the possible ratio of premium prices between young and old people from 3:1 to 5:1, allowing insurers to charge older people more.

“That’s going in the wrong direction,” Steve Doocy said.

“Well, it’s pricing for what individuals’ health status is, and that’s important to appreciate,” Price said. “Somebody’s going to pay for health coverage for the American people, and the question is how do you do that. And right now, what we’re seeing is that the current plan doesn’t work, because you’ve got 20 million individuals out there who’ve said, ‘Nonsense, I’m not even going to participate in this process.’”

Price was referring to individuals who opted not to buy insurance under Obamacare, either paying a fee or claiming a “hardship exemption.”

Pressed on whether the government would provide assistance for “people who are going to end up paying five times more,” Price said individuals would “absolutely” receive help, “depending on where you are in the economic spectrum.”

However, the Congressional Budget Office found in March (pp. 34) that Republicans’ proposed tax credits for individuals in the nongroup health insurance market were much less generous than Obamacare’s subsidies.

Earlier in the interview, Price acknowledged that House Republicans chose not to wait for a new CBO analysis of amendments offered by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-MI).

“The score has been made by CBO,” he said. “And everybody understands that the Congressional Budget Office is just looking at a narrow sliver of this entire plan.”

He was referring to the planned “phases” of Republicans’ health care effort, separate from the American Health Care Act — a massive deregulatory effort undertaken by HHS, and the potential passage of several other measures that are unlikely to receive many Democratic votes, if at all.

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