HHS Secretary Price argues people with pre-existing conditions should pay more

“Well, it’s pricing for what an individual’s health status is, and that’s important to appreciate.”

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) approved by House Republicans on Thursday would allow insurance companies to price people with pre-existing conditions out of the health insurance marketplace — just as was the case before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in 2010.

But that doesn’t seem to bother Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. During a Fox & Friends interview on Friday, Price suggested it’s only natural people who have a certain “health status” pay more.

Price said that after host Steve Doocy, playing devil’s advocate, mentioned that “under Obamacare the older folks and sicker folks could pay three times more than the younger folks, whereas under this plan they might pay five times more — that’s going in the wrong direction.”

“Well, it’s pricing for what an individual’s health status is, and that’s important to appreciate,” Price said. “Someone is going to pay for health coverage for the American people and the question is, how do you do that.”

Later, Doocy asked Price whether “those people who are going to wind up paying five times more if this bill went through — will they get assistance from the government to pay their bill?”

Price’s answers included both a major caveat and a lie.

“Absolutely, depending on where you are in the economic spectrum,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, the bill that went through the House yesterday is one that will provide coverage for every single American, and it’ll do so in a way that allows them to select the kind of coverage that they want.”

Far from providing coverage for every American, the AHCA would result in upwards of 24 million Americans losing their health insurance because of premium increases and the bill’s $880 billion Medicaid cut. And Price’s remark about being able to “select the kind of coverage that they want” is code for the bill’s provision allowing states to sell insurance plans that don’t cover services currently mandated in every plan under the ACA, such as maternity care and hospitalizations.

Price and the Fox & Friends hosts are on the same page with regard to coverage of pre-existing conditions (or lack thereof). On Thursday, Doocy’s co-host, Brian Kilmeade, characterized coverage for preexisting conditions is a “luxury.” In the next breath, Doocy said that instead of allowing folks affordable access to the health care coverage they need, “the key is getting rid of a lot of the regulations and a lot of the taxes which many small businesses have been burdened with over the last number of years. They will be out.”