HHS secretary on waiving individual mandate: 'All things are on the table'

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price discusses what's next for health care reform.
8:43 | 07/30/17

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Transcript for HHS secretary on waiving individual mandate: 'All things are on the table'
Mr. Secretary, this week, president trump said you were responsible for the passage of a health care bill. Here's what he said about you. Hopefully, he's going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that is is really hurting us. He better get 'em. Oh, otherwise, I'll say, Tom, you're fired. I'll get somebody. Safe to say you still have your job. I know you say it was a joke. But there was message to you there. What could you have done differently? Do you feel the you let the president down? I think what that statement was, one, I think it was -- a humorous comment that the president made. I think what it highlighted is the seriousness with which he takes this issue. He understands that the American people are hurting because of Obamacare. We have over 30% of the counties across the nation have one insurer offering koejs. Premiums and deductibles are up. The president understands that this -- Obamacare right now is not working for the patients across this land. That's what he wants to fix. That's hat his passion is. The president also talked repeatedly this week about letting Obamacare implode. As recently as Friday he was calling for that. This is what he said last February. From a purely political standpoint, the ING sl best thing we can do is nothing. Let it implode completely. But it's not the right thing to do for the American people. It's not the right thing to do. So -- what is it going to be? Let it implode or as he says, do the right thing for the American people? No, I think what the president said is it's not the right thing to do because it hurts people. Again, 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. And that's where his passion is. That's why he keeps coming back to this and saying, look, senate, do your job. Congress, do your job. You have said for seven years you're going to repeal and replace Obama care. Now get to work and get it done. This week, he said he was going to let it implode. Is that what he's going to do? No, I think that -- that punctuates the concern he has about getting this moved in the right direction. There are people -- we were in the WOUs this past week with the president and four families. One little fella, Monty, a 3-year-old with spina bifida. You have to have a single physician caring for you throughout the extent of the treatment. Their insurance has changed three times in three years because of Obamacare. This is a system that is not working for patients. That's what the president understands. That's what he appreciates. That's why he's so passionate about making certain he does all that he can to get this repealed and replaced with a system that works for patients. But he said let Obamacare implode, then deal. What does that mean? It punctuates the seriousness that he understands of American people dealing with the current situation. How is he going to deal with it? People paying premiums of $1,000 a month. And deductibles of there are 1,000. If you're making 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 bucks, you have an insurance card, but you can't afford the care. This system is not working for patients. That's where the president's passion is. And that's why he believes so strongly we need to do whatever we can to repeal and replace it. HHS has the ability to further destabilize the marketplace by stops cost-sharinging payments to insurers. Not enforcing the individual mandate. Working internally to undermine it. You have said nobody is interested in sabotaging the system. Are you going to help it implode or try to fix it? The responsibity of the department is to improve the health and the safety and well being of the American people. We take that mission extremely seriously. Which is why we're so passionate about making certain that we have a health care system, again, that works for patients. Right now, you have a system that is not working for patients. You have folks who give us calls every day and let us know the concern they have about their inability to get care for their family. We have calls from physicians who let us know they're no longer able to take care of the patients they're charged with caring for because of the rules and regulations out of Washington. The ACA. The Obamacare stated 1442 times. 1,442 times. The secretary shall or the secretary may. What the previous administration did was make it so it was harder to care for patients and drove up the cost of coverage and care. We're going to look at every one of those rules and regulations, all 1442 of them and determine, does it drive up costs or down costs? Does it help patients or hurt patients? When it hurts patients, we're moving in the other direction. Is what the president is proposing, letting the existing system fail, putting the the needs of parrots firs-- patients first. I understand your views on Obamacare. The current system is imploding. President has stated it. I understand it. The American people understand it. You have 83 insurance companies before this administration came into office that fled the market. That said, we can't do this anymore. You're going to have 40% of the counties in the country next year that only have one insurance company providing coverage. That's not a choice. You'll have dozens of counties with no insurance company providing coverage. This system has failed. That's what the president is saying. He's demanding congress act. If we could fix it by regulation, we would do so. It takes an act of congress. As for insurance subsidies, the president tweeted if a new health care bill is not in place quickly. Bailouts for companies and members of congress will end very soon. How soon could HHS stop paying cost-sharing payments to insurers? Next Mont has the president made a decision? No decision is made. I'm not able to comment anymore because it's a court case. It's house V. Price. The house position was that the -- and previous administration, the administration didn't have the authority to make the payment. The court has, at this point, aagreed with the house position. It's working its way through the court. I can't weigh in any further because of being the defendant in the case. ? What about the individual mandate? Is the president considering directing his agencies not to enforce it? Have you ruled that out? The individual mandate is one of those things driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage. What we're trying to do is make it so Obama care is no longer harming the the patients of this land. No longer driving up costs. No longer making it so they've got coverage but no care. And the individual mandate is one of those things. The senate recognized it. The house recognize Ed it and put in their legislation a repeal of the penalty for the individual mandate. That's one of the things that is driving the costs up. Making it so people don't have coverage. President trump did sign an executive order allowing HHS to waive the individual mandate. So that's still an option, right? Well, all things are on the table to try to help patients. What we're trying to do is make it so we have a health care system that responds to the needs of the American people. When the federal government gets in the way of responding to those needs, allowing the American people to provide coverage and care for themselves across this land, it's incumbent on us as policymakers and leaders to put in place a system that works for the American people. That's what the president's passion is. That's what our passion is. Thank you very much for joining us this morning, secretary price. Thank you, Martha.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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