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Tom Price: Everyone should have health care coverage

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(CNN) — Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — but he also says he believes everyone should have access to health care.

“Nobody wants individuals not to have coverage. We want everybody to have coverage,” Price told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. “Having everybody have coverage is imperative at this point.”

While Price conceded that Obamacare has improved health care access for those who didn’t have it before the passage of the health care legislation, he argued it has made things worse for people in the small business market.

The former secretary said he believes there are ways to provide access to care that is “affordable, accessible” and provides “the highest quality and choices for patients,” but that Obamacare does not fill that role.

Price has been an ardent critic of the landmark health care legislation, which was enacted in 2010 when Axelrod was serving as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. Price was one of the Trump White House’s lead negotiators in unsuccessful Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare last year. Asked on the podcast about his remark about a “vile liberal agenda” at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010, Price said he was likely talking about the Affordable Care Act.

“I really felt and I wrote at the time and I spoke at the time … about the harm that I felt that bill was going to do to American health care,” Price recalled to Axlerod.

Price argued against criticism of the Trump administration’s reduction of the Obamacare advertising budget and shortening of the enrollment period, saying it was “an illogical conclusion” to think the moves had an adverse effect on enrollment rates. He said the enrollment period was shortened to align with that of Medicare.

Price resigned from the Trump administration in September 2017 amid a scandal over his use of private planes for government business. In his “Axe Files” interview, he would not discuss his ouster or the ethics controversies surrounding EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt or Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

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