HHS Secretary Tom Price: We won’t let Obamacare ‘implode’

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price denied that Republicans would allow the Affordable Care Act to “implode” to force Democrats to cooperate in repealing and replacing the law, signaling a break with President Trump.

In the wake of Senate Republicans’ failure to pass any legislation dismantling the ACA, Trump said Friday, “You know, I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode and then do it. And I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode.”

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Price was confronted with Trump’s comments, which he said were somewhat rhetorical and meant to illustrate the president’s “passion” for health care reform.

“The president’s passion about this is that he understands that this system may be working for Washington, it may be working for insurance companies, but it’s not working for patients,” Price said.

As for Trump’s use of the word implode, Price said, “That punctuates the concern that he has about getting this moved in the right direction.”

Republicans have long promised to repeal and replace former President Obama’s signature legislation, but even with a Republican in the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress, they have been unable to make any progress. The latest effort failed after midnight Thursday, when a surprise “no” vote by Sen. John McCain, joining longtime holdouts Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, thwarted “skinny repeal.”

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday what realistic measure Congress should vote on to improve the existing health care law, Price stuck to the party line, urging lawmakers to return to their homes and hear from constituents who are displeased with their coverage under the ACA.

In both interviews, Price was asked about Trump’s comments Monday, before the efforts to repeal and replace the ACA failed, that he’d say, “Tom, you’re fired!” if Price wasn’t able to deliver. On “This Week,” Price brushed it off.

“It was a humorous comment that the president made,” Price said, before getting back on message. “But I think what it highlighted is the seriousness with which he takes this issue.”