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Tom Price Now Says Obamacare Will Cost More Because of GOP’s Individual Mandate Repeal

Yuval Rosenberg
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price speaks about efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and the advancement of the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

President Trump’s former secretary of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty will likely raise the cost of health insurance through the program’s exchanges.

“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 who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently, that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,” Price told the World Health Care Congress in D.C., according to The Washington Times.

Price also said Tuesday that lawmakers are unlikely to take on legislative fixes to the Affordable Care Act until after November’s midterm elections.

Why it matters: Price’s prediction is in line with criticism of the mandate repeal by Democrats — and with projections from the Congressional Budget Office, which said in November that premiums would rise and 13 million fewer Americans would have health insurance by 2027 without the individual mandate. But while he was in office, Price argued that the mandate was ineffective and drove up the cost of coverage.

The politics: Democrats were quick to jump on both Price’s comments and the Commonwealth Fund report. “Former Secretary Price’s comments and the new Commonwealth Fund study continue to remove any doubt that Republicans and the Trump administration own any and all increases in healthcare premiums for American consumers,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

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