Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Sunday that President Trump’s controversial Twitter habit is not getting in the way of his efforts to persuade Congress to pass a health-care overhaul.
“The fact of the matter is that he can do more than one thing at a time,” Price said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that grew testy at times.
Price was asked by moderator Chuck Todd whether Trump’s feud with the media on Twitter over the past week was distracting him from the push to pass legislation in the Senate overhauling the Affordable Care Act. Trump unleashed several tweets in recent days targeting the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” including one calling Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock” and another claiming she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
“He spent most of his time tweeting about anything other than health care. Is the president too distracted here to campaign for health care?” Todd asked.
“Absolutely not,” Price responded. “The president's held multiple meetings within the White House itself, with physicians, with small-business groups, with other folks who have been harmed by Obamacare, with patients, individual stakeholders from across this land who tell him and have told us repeatedly that the current system is collapsing. And that's what the president talks about.”
Todd pressed Price on what he, as a father, thought about the tone of Trump’s tweets about Brzezinski.
“Chuck, you know, this is really remarkable,” Price said. “You've got incredible challenges across this nation, incredible challenges around the world. The challenge that I've been given is to address the health-care issues. And your program, a program with the incredible history of ‘Meet the Press,’ and that's what you want to talk about?”
“Mr. Secretary, I don't,” Todd said. “With all due respect, you're blaming me for what the president of the United States has spent his entire week focused on?”
“No. Listen to me, with all due respect,” Price responded. “The American people are concerned about a health-care system that is not providing choices, where premiums are going up, where insurance companies are vacating markets all across this land. And that's what they want us to concentrate on. And that's what they want us to fix. And that's what I and the president are working on.”
During the appearance, Price also expressed frustration at media coverage of the projections of the pending Senate bill by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that it would lead to 22 million fewer people being uninsured within a decade. Todd also noted that the CBO and outside groups have said that while premiums might drop under the bill for younger Americans, they would rise for older Americans and people with preexisting conditions.
“That's precisely because the Congressional Budget Office and all of these analyses don't look at the entire plan,” said Price, adding that the entire plan also includes forthcoming legislation to increase competition and choice in the insurance marketplace, as well as administrative actions being taken by his department.
“If you look at it in its totality, and nobody's looking at it in its totality, we will bring down premiums,” Price said. “We will increase coverage. We will increase choices. And I believe we will increase the quality of care provided in this nation.”