Weekend talk show rewind: What critics, supporters said about Republicans' healthcare plan

Critics and proponents of the Republicans' healthcare bill made the talk show rounds over the weekend to discuss the proposal. (Getty/wellphoto)

Proponents of House Republicans’ healthcare overhaul, the American Health Care Act, took to the talk show circuit this past weekend to defend the proposal, while critics also spoke out about its potential flaws.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price sat down with Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" to stress the bill’s efforts to offer more choice for consumers.

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“What we want to do is to put in place a system that will allow for folks to select the coverage that they want, have it through a transparent and accountable system, competition that allows individuals to drive down the costs of the provision of health coverage,” Price said. “That's key to making certain that we've got a system that works for people, not government.”

He told Todd that age-based tax credits were built into the bill because age is a reliable metric to gauge healthcare spending, instead of the ACA's income-based subsidies. He also firmly disputed the argument that the AHCA is “Obamacare lite,” a descriptor thrown around by opponents within the GOP that want to dismantle the ACA even further.

Some of the other stakeholders making the rounds to discuss the proposed bill included:

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan, appearing on CBS’s "Face the Nation" on Sunday, said he can’t say how many people would lose insurance coverage under the AHCA, as it will be up to them to choose whether they wish to continue coverage. “So the question is: Are we providing a system where people have access to health insurance if they choose to do so?” he said. “And the answer is yes. But are we going to have some nice-looking spreadsheet that says, ‘We, the government … are going to make people buy something and therefore they’re all going to buy it’? No.”
  • Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also spoke on "Meet the Press," and she said that she could not define the ultimate goal of the Republicans’ proposed bill. For instance, the Obama administration went into crafting the ACA with the goal of getting more people insured. She said that many of the issues with the ACA are fixable, but the Republicans are dismantling it instead of patching the holes.
  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., one of the bill’s leading Republican dissidents, continued his criticism of the proposal on "Face the Nation." He said Ryan is pushing the bill as a “binary choice” for Republicans, posing it as either accepting the AHCA or keeping the ACA intact, instead of negotiating with members of the party that have concerns. He also said the bill fails to resolve one of the key issues with the ACA: rising premiums.
  • Tom Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association (AHA), said during a interview with National Public Radio that the group is concerned about the bill’s impact on its members, particularly the changes to Medicaid. Nickels said hospitals across the country benefited from increased Medicaid enrollment as it cut uncompensated care costs—savings that also benefit consumers, as they prevent payers from increasing rates for the privately insured. AHA President Rick Pollack submitted an official letter (PDF) to Congress last week, saying that the organization cannot support the law “in its current form.”
  • Andrew Gurman, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, also spoke with NPR, saying that the bill “doesn’t comport with some of our basic principles,” as the neediest people may be unable to continue insurance coverage under its tax subsidies. He added that it’s natural that the ACA needs adjustments and changes, as well, because of its complex nature. “To think that something like the Affordable Care Act would be born fully mature and ready to go to medical school is naive,” Gurman said.

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