Trump economic head: Whether millions have insurance is ‘interesting’ but beside the point

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn says how many people lose health coverage is really only about headlines.

Chris Wallace interviews Gary Cohn CREDIT: Fox News Sunday

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace grilled Gary Cohn, the Trump administration’s National Economic Council director, about the millions of people slated to lose their health insurance coverage under the Trumpcare proposal on Sunday. After a lot of dodging, Cohn said the number of people who are insured is “interesting” but beside the point.

Wallace noted the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO)— which is lead by Congressional Republicans’ handpicked economist — is expected to release an analysis that finds the Trumpcare proposal would mean between “6 and 15 million people” losing their health insurance coverage. “Will the president support a bill that sends millions of Americans off insurance?” Wallace asked.

Trump’s top economic adviser initially ignored the question, criticizing the Affordable Care Act as “not working” and the Congressional Budget Office’s previous scores (under a different director) as “meaningless.” Wallace repeated the question.

“The numbers of who’s covered and who’s not covered,” Cohn replied. “That’s interesting and I know that may make some headlines, but what we care about is people’s ability to get healthcare and people’s ability to go see their doctor.”

Wallace noted that coverage “is really important if you lose it” and showed a 2015 clip of Donald Trump as a candidate vowing to “take care of everybody,” even if it cost him votes.

Cohn answered that under Trumpcare, everyone would be offered coverage. He added that the administration does not think anyone will lose insurance at all, and suggested that the plan’s end of the Medicaid expansion would not actually mean cost anyone their Medicaid coverage. He also claimed that because the people buying insurance on exchanges with subsidies would receive less generous tax credits instead, they will all have the opportunity to buy insurance if they want it.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who as House Budget Chairman in 2015 selected the head of the CBO, made similar claims Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. Price claimed, contrary to all evidence, that “nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through, understanding that they’ll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not [that] the government forces them to buy.”