- The Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services Secretary (HHS) penned a letter to the two House Republicans behind the American Health Care Act praising the new legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act.
“On behalf of the Trump Administration, I am writing in support of the reconciliation recommendations recently released for consideration by your Committees,” wrote Secretary Tom Price, MD.
“Together, they align with the President’s goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act,” he continued. “These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions.”
This is the first legislation that has been openly supported by Price, even though previous legislation had been proposed by other republican lawmakers. The American Health Care Act is an embodiment of earlier GOP plans that provide universal tax credits, repeal individual mandates for health insurance, and eliminate federal Medicaid expansions.
Previous attempts to repeal the ACA, such as the Patient Freedom Act that preceded Price’s confirmation, did not garner much support among Republican lawmakers compared to this most recent proposal.
The proposed legislation would create state-based funding for preventive services, grandfathers current ACA enrollees for proper transition from the ACA, and uses a per-capita formula to allot Medicaid funding. Additional provisions include moving Medicaid funding and management to the state level, using tax credits and HSAs to move away from mandates. The plan also keeps highly-favored provisions of the ACA, such as the ability to stay on parental coverage until age 26 and non-discrimination coverage for pre-existing conditions.
In the letter, Price contends that the ACA lacked due diligence in its promises to lower healthcare costs, and favors the House-backed (and President Trump-supported), legislation that would repeal many parts of the ACA and keep only the most favorable in the public eye.
“Americans were promised lower healthcare costs, but in reality, since Obamacare was instituted, premiums have risen by over 40 percent on average, and in some places have risen by over 100 percent,” stated the HHS press release including Price’s letter to the Committees on Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means . “In 2015, nearly 20 million Americans found health insurance so unaffordable that they instead paid the IRS penalty or applied for a hardship exemption.”
During his nomination hearings before Congress, Price said he saw the future of medical coverage as a way to ensure every American has access to healthcare. During his confirmation hearings, Price stated that he would make “sure that people had access to the kinds of health care they wanted and the feasibility to pay for it.”
After a Senate hearing and a vote in favor of his appointment 51-47, Tom Price was officially confirmed as HHS Secretary and was reported to support proposals to shift Medicare away from its open-ended commitment to pay for medical services, to a fixed government contribution for each beneficiary that could be used for private insurance or Medicare.
Price’s support of the House GOP bill is not surprising.
“Your proposals represent a necessary and important first step toward fulfilling our promises to the American people,” he explained. “Achieving all of the President’s goals to reform healthcare will require more than what is possible in a budget reconciliation bill, as procedural rules on this type of legislation prevent inclusion of key policies such as selling insurance across state lines, lowering drug costs for patients, providing additional flexibility in Medicaid for states to manage their programs in a way that best serves their most vulnerable citizens, or medical legal reforms.”