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HHS Secretary Tom Price promises GOP won’t pull ‘rug out’ on health care

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the GOP health care plan Sunday from Republicans opposing the bill.

Price said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Gov. Brian Sandoval might misunderstand the full intentions of the party on health care and issued a broad promise to the country.

“What I’m telling you is the system, the plan that we would put in place, would not allow individuals to fall through the cracks,” Price told CNN’s Dana Bash. “We would not pull the rug out from under anybody. We would not have individuals lose coverage that they want for themselves and for their family. We want to make certain that health care is available to all Americans.”

Price reiterated the argument he has made for months, saying the bills under consideration in Congress are only one part of the GOP’s health care plan and that HHS will take action on the administration side to lower premiums — which Heller said the Senate’s newly revealed bill will not do.

“I think there’s a misunderstanding about what the entire plan is,” Price said. “And the fact of the matter is, the bill is part of the plan, and then the kinds of things that we’re doing through the Department of Health and Human Services add on to that.”

Price said he had spoken with Heller and Sandoval to elaborate on his full vision for the proposed health care overhaul.

“The plan in its entirety will absolutely bring premiums down,” Price said.

Price repeatedly railed against Obamacare, and at one point in the interview cited the 28 million uninsured people under the existing law as problematic.

“Is that a plan that works for patients? Absolutely not,” Price said. “That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to fix.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegged the number of uninsured people in 2016 at 28.6 million — 20 million fewer uninsured people than in 2010.

The Congressional Budget Office issued a report in May saying by 2026, 28 million people would be uninsured under Obamacare and 51 million would be uninsured under the American Health Care Act, the bill House Republicans passed last month; that means 23 million fewer people would be insured, according to the CBO projection.

The CBO said it would issue its assessment of the Senate bill early this week.

Like the House legislation, the Senate bill would impose major changes to Medicaid and curtail its growth over time and also would repeal the individual mandate.

However, the Senate bill would maintain much of Obamacare’s subsidy structure to help people pay for individual coverage, but make it less generous, particularly for older enrollees. And it would keep more of Obamacare’s insurance regulations than the House legislation.

In a separate interview on the same program, Ohio Gov. John Kasich defended fellow Republicans Heller and Sandoval.

“Not only Heller, but Sandoval is a great governor,” Kasich said. “You know what he’s saying? ‘I’m worried about poor people.'”