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Price walks back warning on ObamaCare individual mandate

Price walks back warning on ObamaCare individual mandate
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Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceGOP on timing of Haley’s announcement: 'Unusual' and 'odd' Watchdog calls for investigation into Haley flights White House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report MORE on Wednesday walked back comments he made predicting repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate would drive up insurance costs.

In a statement, Price said his remarks at Tuesday’s World Health Care Congress were taken out of context.

“Repealing the individual mandate was exactly the right thing to do. Forcing Americans to buy something they don’t want undermines individual liberty as well as free markets. The only fair and effective way to bring down health-care costs is to allow markets to create more choices for consumers and small businesses,” Price said.

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At the conference, Price said that repealing the mandate as part of the GOP tax law will increase premiums. Healthy people won’t buy coverage, making the markets older and sicker, which will result in higher prices, he said.

Democrats and ObamaCare advocates, who have long made the same argument, immediately seized on the remark from President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE’s own former health secretary — a fierce opponent of ObamaCare.

They said his statement reinforced the argument that Republicans are to blame for coming premium increases in large part due to their repeal of the mandate that most people obtain health insurance or pay a fine.

Democrats are hoping to pin the blame for premium increases on Republicans as an important part of their midterm elections message.

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that repeal of the mandate will increase premiums by 10 percent as fewer healthy people sign up to balance out the costs of the sick.

Republicans argue that repealing the mandate removes fines that largely hit low-income people who choose not to buy insurance that they found to be unaffordable.

Price’s new statement echoed Republicans who say that new policies being enacted by the Trump administration like association health plans and short-term plans will increase competition and lower costs.