The Public Record: Did Tom Price say eliminating the individual mandate would increase insurance costs?

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The Players: In a speech given to the World Health Care Conference in Washington D.C., former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price spoke candidly about the impact of repealing the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Health Care Act. He would later clarify his remarks.

The Quote: Here is what Price said at the conference relating to the repeal of the individual mandate and how it affects the health care exchanges.

“That may help, but it still is nibbling at the side… And there are many — and I’m one of them — who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals that are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market.”

Tom Price

Why is this statement important?: As a member of Donald Trump’s cabinet, Price supported the repeal of the individual mandate last year. For those who may have forgotten, the individual mandate refers to the requirement that every citizen has to purchase health insurance. While the republican leadership has been unable to completely repeal Obamacare, they were successful in repealing the individual mandate. Leading up to this, Price claimed that the individual mandate was itself driving up insurance costs.

What did he mean?: In an opinion piece written for The Hill, Price clarified his statement to the World Health Conference. After blaming “gotcha” politics for taking his quote out of context, Price said he meant that by itself — without any additional reforms — the repeal of the individual mandate would mean “Obamacare patients will have to bear more of their own health care costs.” Price went on to say that he still supports the decision and believes the repeal of the individual mandate has freed millions of families.

Price’s Previous Statements: Last year, when he was still serving on Trump’s cabinet, Price said almost the exact opposite during a television appearance where he blamed the individual mandate for harming those in the exchange pool. Here is that quote:

“The individual mandate is one of those things that is actually driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage. 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.”

Tom Price

More trouble for the Price family: The controversy over Price’s quote comes at a time when quotes from the Price family are gaining quite a bit of media attention. Price’s wife, Betty, is running for re-election to her state house seat this year and has been caught with her foot in her mouth on two occasions this year.

Overall, it has been a rough year for the Price family. In September, Tom Price resigned from Donald Trump’s cabinet after a scandal involving air travel. The following month Betty Price asked if there were a way to quarantine HIV patients. In December, fellow Republican Jere Wood announced he would be running against Betty Price. In February, Betty Price was caught on camera mocking liberal women and later that same month she admitted she voted against a hands-free driving bill in committee because she was “just causing trouble.”

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