HHS Secretary Tom Price said that major cuts to Medicaid and repealing the Affordable Care Act would result in better care for individuals.
Price offered few details on how that would happen during his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee. He spoke about the potential consequences of President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal that includes a $12.4 billion cut to HHS' discretionary funding. Medicaid would lose about $600 billion over the next decade.
Although Democrats and policy experts have claimed the cut would set back medical research, coverage programs and drug and device safety, Price maintained the cuts would push HHS to focus on outcomes rather than spending as a measure for success. "If how much money the government spends on a program were truly a measure of success, Medicaid would be hailed as one of the most successful in history," Price said.
Twenty years ago, annual government spending on Medicaid was less than $200 billion. Within the next decade, that figure is estimated to top $1 trillion, according to Price.
Price said Medicaid is an outdated, one-size-fits-all program. Converting the program to a per capita cap system as outlined under the American Health Care Act would give states the flexibility to create the coverage program they wish.
Price evaded questions on whether the Trump administration would continue to pay billions in cost-sharing reductions to help people pay for coverage on the marketplaces. Insurers have exited HealthCare.gov insurance exchanges for the 2018 open enrollment period, citing uncertainty over whether those cost-sharing reimbursements will be paid.
Price said the Trump administration's proposed budget assumes insurers will continue to receive those payments. He added that the funding would continue until a lawsuit by House Republicans over the subsidies is resolved.