WH Chief Of Staff Mulvaney Dodges Questions About Pre-Existing Conditions

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March 31, 2019 9:52 a.m.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney declared Sunday that “the debate about preexisting conditions is over” in Republicans’ larger battle to eliminate and replace Obamacare.

But as CNN’s Jake Tapper grilled Mulvaney on the White House’s currently non-existent plan to replace Obamacare, should Republicans succeed in eliminating the Affordable Care Act in court, the White House chief struggled to answer how Republicans would protect Americans with pre-existing conditions from skyrocketing insurance costs should they lose Obamacare’s legal protections.

Tapper summed up Mulvaney’s problem succinctly in an interview Sunday: Under Obamacare, he noted, insurers can’t charge people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums for that reason. “The Republican plans do not do that,” Tapper said.

Mulvaney dodged: “Let’s talk about that for a second. Let’s talk about what Obamacare does,” he began, before pivoting and ignoring the issue.

Eventually, though, he said Republicans would only put forward a plan once the lawsuit the Trump administration recently joined to eliminate Obamacare is over.

“What we’re going to do over the course of the next couple months — because the lawsuit will move fairly slowly — is to come up with something that can pass into law. We’d love to work with Democrats. We don’t think they’re going to do that with us until that lawsuit is over.”

Consistently, Mulvaney dodged questions about Republicans’ plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

“Wouldn’t it be responsible to have the replacement there before you take the insurance away from the individuals, the tens of millions of Americans who are relying on it?” Tapper asked at one point.

Mulvaney pivoted again: “I don’t know, would it be responsible for the Democrats to pass a decent bill in the first place? They didn’t do that.”

In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Mulvaney recited a similar line. “The debate about pre-existing conditions is over. Both parties support them. And anyone telling you anything differently is lying to you for political gain,” he claimed.

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