HHS chief Tom Price insists cutting nearly $1 trillion from Medicaid will help patients.

HHS Chief Insists Cutting Nearly $1 Trillion From Medicaid Will Help Patients

HHS Chief Insists Cutting Nearly $1 Trillion From Medicaid Will Help Patients

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May 7 2017 1:49 PM

HHS Chief Insists Cutting Nearly $1 Trillion From Medicaid Will Help Patients

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price listens during a news conference at the Capitol on March 17 in Washington.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Slashing $880 billion* from Medicaid will help make the program “more responsive” to users, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said. During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Price repeatedly dodged questions about whether the cut in Medicaid amounted to a “broken promise” from President Donald Trump, who had vowed during the campaign there would be no cuts in Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office analysis of a previous version of the bill said Medicaid would be slashed by $880 billion, which would translate into 14 million people losing Medicaid coverage.

When confronted with the cuts, Price repeatedly refused to admit that the health care bill would cut Medicaid saying the Congressional Budget Office used the Obamacare numbers as a baseline for its analysis. Price insisted, "There are no cuts to the Medicaid program," adding that resources would be doled out "in a way that allows states greater flexibility." Ultimately, he insisted, patients would benefit. “Imagine a system that works better for patients,” Price said. “What we’re fashioning is a system that would allow the states to tailor their Medicaid program to those specific individuals, thereby saving money, yes, but also making it so that they have a higher level of care than they currently do. That sounds like it makes a lot of sense.”


Price repeated the same logic in NBC’s Meet the Press. “What we're trying to do is to improve the Medicaid system, make it more responsive to patients so that there are more resources to be able to be utilized for the disabled and the aged. That makes a whole lot of sense,” he said. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell repeatedly tried to press him on the issue but finally gave up: “I think a lot of people wonder how taking more than $800 billion out of something is going to put more resources in it.”

*Correction, May 7, 2017: This post originally misstated that $880 million would be cut from Medicaid rather than $880 billion. The headline also incorrectly stated the cut would be nearly $1 billion rather than $1 trillion.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.