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WASHINGTON ― White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney threw cold water on the promise that “everybody” would get health insurance under GOP legislation ― a promise that was made by none other than President Donald Trump himself.
“We don’t have universal ― the only way to have universal care, if you stop to think about it, is to force people to buy it under penalty of law,” Mulvaney said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
The expectation of everyone in the nation getting health insurance if Trump took office came from promises he himself made.
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said in January. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”
In 2015, Trump similarly told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “Everybody’s got to be covered.”
But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office made clear in its recent analysis that there’s no way everyone will get insurance under the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Instead, 24 million people stand to lose coverage over the next decade.
Last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer started to add caveats to Trump’s promise, saying it was less of a promise and more of a “goal.” He said Trump’s plan would create lower costs and give “more people the option to have health care.”
“Everybody has a choice to get it,” Spicer added, “and I think that’s what we want to do is give everyone who wants to get health care the financial ability to get it.”
Mulvaney, however, was more direct Sunday, just admitting that “insurance for everybody” is impossible, since Republicans refuse to put in place a mandate to buy insurance. (And they’re not interested in a single-payer system, which would also offer universal insurance access.)
“What you’ve got now is we’re forcing people to buy it under Obamacare under penalty of law and people are still looking for a way not to buy it,” he said. “So clearly the government mandate doesn’t work. The better process, the better function is exactly what we’re trying to do now, which is to encourage people and enable them to buy a policy they want and can afford.”
The CBO also took issue with the White House’s claim that health care will suddenly be significantly more affordable. It found, for example, that a 64-year-old person who makes $26,500 could face an increase in his or her premiums from $1,700 now to $14,600 under the GOP bill.
“The only way to get truly universal care is to throw people in jail if they don’t have it. And we are not going to do that,” Mulvaney added.
Obamacare actually specifically bars the federal government from throwing anyone in jail if they don’t purchase health insurance. People do face a tax penalty, but the law also says the IRS can’t use liens or levies on property as enforcement tools.