President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s top health official would not promise every American would get to keep their coverage under an executive order signed last week.
“What I commit to the American people is to keep patients at the center of health care, and what that means to me is making certain that every single American has access to affordable health coverage,” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) told Finance Committee ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) when asked if he would commit to no one losing coverage.
The distinction between “access” to health insurance and “health coverage” appears to be a growing division between members of Congress and Trump, who vowed insurance for everyone in interviews ahead of his inauguration.
Wyden also asked Price to refrain from acting on Trump’s executive order until there is a replacement for Obamacare. The order doesn’t make any immediate changes to the health care law, but could give officials broad authority to weaken it. The executive order gives heads of agencies the power to lower health costs for consumers, doctors, insurers and drug and device makers, making the law more difficult to implement.
“What the congressman is saying is that the order could go into effect before there is a replacement plan,” Wyden said. “Independent experts say this is going to destroy the market on which millions of working families buy health coverage.”
Wyden accused Price of “ducking” the question on whether people would be worse off or lose coverage under any health care replacement plan.
Price repeated his point that people would retain access to health coverage when he testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last week, echoing what colleagues on the Hill have said in recent weeks.