Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price Wednesday walked back comments about how Republican efforts to undo Obamacare’s individual mandate would increase costs for people who remain insured, saying that his remarks were reported out of context.
“Repealing the individual mandate was exactly the right thing to do. Forcing Americans to buy something they don’t want undermines individual liberty as well as free markets,” Price said in a statement. “The only fair and effective way to bring down healthcare costs is to allow markets to create more choices for consumers and small businesses.”
Price told the World Health Care Congress on Tuesday that repealing the Obamacare mandate as part of the GOP's tax overhaul will harm insurance markets because younger and healthier people would be likelier to not buy coverage, raising prices for others who do.
Obamacare supporters immediately pounced on the remarks, which marked a significant break from GOP orthodoxy on the health law and stunned some congressional Republicans and HHS staffers. Price, a former Georgia congressman who served as President Donald Trump’s first HHS secretary for roughly seven months, repeatedly opposed the Obamacare mandate while in those roles.
The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated that repealing the requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty will raise premiums on average by 10 percent. The number of uninsured people would also increase by 13 million over a decade, the CBO projected.