Trump budget chief: President is focused on health care, not insurance coverage

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney spoke to George Stephanopolous.

ByABC News
March 12, 2017, 4:45 PM

— -- White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said critics of the new GOP health care bill should not be too “worried about getting people coverage.”

Rather, the Republican bill and President Trump are focused on getting people affordable health care, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

"The bill actually helps a great many people," Mulvaney said on "This Week" on Sunday. "It helps people get health care instead of just coverage."

Preliminary analyses from the Brookings Institution and Standard and Poor’s estimate that six to 15 million people could lose coverage under the Republican proposal for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.

Stephanopoulos asked Mulvaney about Trump's earlier promise that there would be "insurance for everybody."

Mulvaney said coverage is not the president's goal. "He wants everybody to get care. And that's what we're doing," the former South Carolina congressman said.

When Stephanopoulos pressed, "The president said he wants to provide insurance coverage to everyone," Mulvaney replied, "What people want is to get care."

"That's what we’re trying to fix -- not coverage for people, not coverage they can afford, but care they can afford," the budget director said. "When they get sick, they want to be able to afford to go to the doctor, and that’s where Obamacare has failed them several times over. That is the problem that we are fixing.”

"We think it's going to be even better" than Obamacare because "the truly indigent are still getting care," and people with an income level just above the Medicaid limit will receive refundable tax credits, Mulvaney said.

The bill would remove subsidies for some middle-income people and would administer tax credits at the same level across income brackets, which critics said would work to the benefit of wealthy Americans.

Mulvaney said, "The fact that certain groups will pay less tax is not central to the issue."

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its estimate of the cost and impact of the GOP’s health care plan on Monday.

Mulvaney, a staunch fiscal conservative and a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus -- which is now opposing the House GOP health care bill -- suggested he may not accept the CBO's analysis.

"We don’t think the CBO is counting correctly," Mulvaney said, referring to the agency's evaluation of Obamacare, to which the proposed new plan would be compared. "They're scoring Obamacare as it exists today, not tomorrow. Obamacare is this close from completely collapsing."

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