Biden adviser clashes with Peacock host: ‘Clearly you have health insurance’
Biden adviser Cedric Richmond clashed with Peacock host Mehdi Hasan on air Tuesday during a discussion about the health care provisions in the recently passed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
During the conversation, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, Hasan asked Richmond why the stimulus package spends an estimated $35 billion on covering COBRA costs for around 2 million unemployed people for six months. He called COBRA an “inefficient, overpriced way of giving people health care.”
Richmond responded, “Well clearly you have health insurance right now.”
On the @MehdiHasanShow, senior White House official Cedric Richmond and I had a rather lively and robust exchange over why the Biden administration is spending $35bn covering Cobra costs for unemployed workers which, imho, is not a good use of cash.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) March 24, 2021
Richmond went on to cite the job loss stemming from the pandemic as a reason why COBRA, which gives workers and families who lose their health benefits the ability to choose to continue their health benefits for a limited amount of time, is the right policy for the moment.
“You ought to pose that to people who have lost their job through no fault of their own, that has lost their health insurance and they need a bridge, so that they stay with insurance,” Richmond said.
“It’s very easy for people to make judgment calls when they’re not in other people’s shoes, and I won’t do that. I won’t put a price on lives,” Richmond added.
Hasan then asked Richmond why the administration was focusing on subsidizing COBRA instead of implementing a universal health care system. He mentioned that while Richmond has said there is no price tag on health care, President Biden has rejected calls for “Medicare for All” because the country can’t afford it.
Richmond responded by linking the COBRA initiative directly to the pandemic.
“Remember, this is a response to a pandemic,” Richmond said. “If we didn’t have COVID-19 you wouldn’t see us doing that COBRA appropriation.”
“Remember, this is in response to people losing their jobs through no fault of their own. And if you don’t have COVID-19 out there, people are not losing their jobs in record numbers through no fault of their own,” Richmond added.
Richmond also defended the $1.9 trillion price tag of the stimulus package, saying the administration rose to the moment.
“Did we rise to the moment? Yes. Did we spend $1.9 trillion? We did, you know why, because there was $1.9 trillion worth of problems in this country that we were trying to fix,” Richmond said.
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