Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price answers questions about the Republican's healthcare plan during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Appearing Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press,
he said: "I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through." Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo
March 12 (UPI) -- The Republicans' new healthcare plan will not put people in worse financial shape, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Sunday.
"I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through," Price said during Sunday's Meet The Press on NBC. "They'll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not the government forces them to buy."
The new secretary predicts premiums will go down.
"There's cost that needs to come down, and we believe we're going to be able to do that through this system," he added. "There's coverage that's going to go up."
Price, a former doctor and Republican congressman from Georgia, has been longtime opponent of the Affordable Care Act. He is now leading the quest of President Donald Trump and Republicans to repeal and replace the healthcare act, also known as Obamacare.
The House bill -- called the American Health Care Act -- is "absolutely not Obamacare Lite," Price said.
The health secretary said the plan replaces a mandate and subsidies with tax credits. "We don't dictate to people what they ought to buy or what they must buy," Price said.
The Brookings Institution estimated that "at least 15 million people will lose coverage under the American Health Care Act by the end of the ten-year scoring window."
"I'll tell you that the plan that we've laid out here will not leave that number of individuals uncovered. In fact I believe, again, that we'll have more individuals covered," he said.
The Congressional Budget Office hasn't released a cost analysis.
A comparison from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that a 60-year-old making $30,000 a year would receive a $4,000 tax credit under the AHCA — nearly $8,000 less than what he or she would receive under Obamacare.
Price claimed that analysis is "looking at it in a silo."
"If you look at it in the way that the market will allow, then, for individuals to have choices, who knows what that 60-year-old wants?" he asked.
Not all Republicans are backing the plan.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on Meet the Press "if you don't get both parties together, nothing is sustainable."
"When you jam something through just one party over another, it's not sustainable. It becomes a point of attack," Kasich said.
The former presidential candidate said Trump "would be flexible. He just wants to get something through." Kasich met with Trump recently in the White House.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a former Democratic presidential candidate, had harsh words for the plan.
"It is an absolute disaster. It is a disgrace. And by the way, this really has nothing to do with healthcare," Sanders told said on CBS' Face the Nation. "What this has everything to do with is a massive shift of wealth from working people and middle-income people to the very richest people in this country."
Sanders, who has advocated for a single-payer health insurance system, said that Obamacare wasn't "perfect."
"In my view, what the American people want is an improvement on Obamacare, not the decimation of Obamacare and throwing so many people off of health insurance and raising premiums substantially," Sanders added.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he agrees with Trump's comment it will be a "bloodbath" in the 2018 midterm election if Congress doesn't pass new healthcare legislation.
"I do believe that if we don't keep our word to the people who sent us here, yeah," Ryan said on Face the Nation.