Remember Tom Price? That disgraced-preacher-lookin’, Disney turtle fella who used to Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services but resigned because he took flights on a whole slew of taxpayer-funded private jets? He comes roaring back into our collective consciousness today, rising from the nether-regions of post-Trump administration obscurity and shame to clear something up: He’s a huge liar and piece of shit, by the way, just FYI. Great to see you again!
At the World Healthcare Congress in Washington today, Price said that the Republican tax bill’s repeal of the individual health insurance mandate was foolish:
According to the Washington Times, Price said he “believes [the repeal] actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market.”
This is a very interesting development, given that last year, when he was actually in a position to influence whether or not this happened, he supported the repeal. Appearing on national television last summer, Price said the exact fucking opposite of what he said today (emphasis mine):
“The individual mandate is one of those things that is actually driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage,” Price said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “So, what we’re trying to do is make it so that Obamacare is no longer harming the patients of this land – no longer driving up costs, no longer making it so that they’ve got coverage but no care.”
However you feel about the inclusion of the individual mandate (which was originally a Heritage Foundation idea, supported by Republicans in the 1990s) in the Affordable Care Act, the fact remains that removing it now, without replacing it with some other means of ensuring health coverage, is likely to increase premiums and reduce the number of people with coverage—a trend we’re already seeing realized—as Price admitted today. If there’s no penalty for not buying health insurance, fewer healthy people will do so, making the overall cost of health insurance higher. (This would not be an issue under single payer!)
The most galling part of this is that Price didn’t actually admit he was wrong or own up to any sort of mistake—he just offered a disinterested policy take, as if he hadn’t played an instrumental role in this bad thing that’s happening right now. He acted as if it happened beside him, rather than partly because of him—as if what you do when you’re in power doesn’t count, because then you have obligations to politics, to your party and your president, to whatever it is you’re told to go out there and say.
But the super cool thing is there will likely be no consequences for Price, save maybe a day’s worth of news outrage about this. I expect he will quietly be snapped up by a lobbying firm as soon as he decides he needs an extra million dollars a year and they decide they need another old white dude in a suit who looks like he sells shoes; they won’t care one bit that he lied and millions of Americans lost their healthcare coverage. What he did today was prove he’s good at saying the wrong thing at the right time and the right thing at the wrong time, and that’s good enough in Washington.