During an interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Tuesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie employed a rhetorical tactic that was nearly identical to a line socialist Senator Bernie Sanders used to attack Republican health care reform. However, Price immediately called her out for borrowing the liberal talking point.
After spending the nearly five-minute interview grilling Price over whether people would lose health insurance coverage under the GOP plan, the Secretary explained: “Everyone will have access to the coverage that they want and there will be a transition phase – ” Co-host Matt Lauer cut him off: “That’s access as opposed to being covered.” Moments later, Guthrie chimed in: “...when you say access, is that like if I’m sitting at home and I make $25,000 a year, I have access to buying a BMW, but I can’t afford it.”
In reply, Price pointed out: “You’ve got a good Bernie Sanders line there, Savannah, great job.” Guthrie objected: “Is that a Bernie Sanders line? I thought I made that up.” Price continued: “No, that’s a Bernie Sanders line.”
Price would certainly know, since Sanders made a very similar remark during the former Congressman’s Senate confirmation hearing to become HHS Secretary. During the January 18 hearing, Sanders declared: “‘Has access to’ does not mean that they are guaranteed health care. I have access to buying a $10 million home, I don’t have the money to do that.”
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Guthrie began the Tuesday exchange by demanding: “Is it time for the administration to just level with the American people and say, ‘You know what, some people are going to lose their coverage’?” When Price began to detail all the current failures of ObamaCare to provide adequate health insurance coverage as well as actual medical care, Guthrie interrupted: “...can I just stop you right there just because I just want to zero in on that point....are you saying no one is going to lose coverage under this plan?”
When Price promised “access” to all Americans, Lauer accused him of playing “a game of semantics” and proclaimed: “Because having access to health insurance is a very different thing than being able to actually get health insurance.”
It seems Senator Sanders was speaking through both Today hosts Tuesday morning.
Here is a transcript of the questions Guthrie and Lauer put to Price in the March 14 interview:
7:15 AM ET
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s get back to health care now. Tom Price is the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Mr. Secretary, good morning, thanks for being with us....I know you’ve got some issues with the numbers, but before we get too wonky, let’s see if we can just cut to the chase. During the campaign, and as recently as January, the President said in no uncertain terms there would be, and I’m quoting him, “insurance for everybody,” quote, “everybody’s got to be covered.” And he added, “They’ll be beautifully covered.” Obviously this is not exactly how it has turned out. Is it time for the administration to just level with the American people and say, “You know what, some people are going to lose their coverage”?
GUTHRIE: So sir, just so I – can I just stop you right there just because I just want to zero in on that point....But are you saying no one is going to lose coverage under this plan? Because that’s what the President promised.
MATT LAUER: You heard what Lindsey Graham said. He said even if the CBO is wrong by what, 50%, then you’re still looking at some seven million more people without insurance in a year and some 12 million more people without insurance down the road. So that doesn’t sound good either, does it?
LAUER: But are you trying to fix it, though, with a game of semantics? Because having access to health insurance is a very different thing than being able to actually get health insurance.
GUTHRIE: And sir, we’ve got to run, but just to go back to the original point, you’re saying this morning that you agree with President Trump that under this plan, everyone will be covered? No one’s losing their insurance?
TOM PRICE: Everyone will have access to the coverage that they want and there will be a transition phase –
GUTHRIE: Okay –
LAUER: That’s access again. That’s access as opposed to being covered.
GUTHRIE: Just real quickly though, so people understand, when you say access, is that like if I’m sitting at home and I make $25,000 a year, I have access to buying a BMW, but I can’t afford it.
PRICE: You’ve got a good Bernie Sanders line there, Savannah, great job.
GUTHRIE: Is that a Bernie Sanders line? I thought I made that up.
PRICE: No, that’s a Bernie Sanders line.
GUTHRIE: Got it. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
LAUER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.