WASHINGTON —Under the bright studio lights and a red, white and blue set, moderators and audience members at a recent CNN town hall event took turns grilling Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about the way the GOP health care bill treats the sick, the vulnerable and the elderly.
Questions oscillated from the personal to the emotional to the fiscal.
A since-recovered cancer patient spoke of how Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saved his life and prevented financial ruin. “Why do you want to take away my Medicaid expansion?” Brian Kline asked.
A Planned Parenthood supporter pressed Price on his stance related to the woman’s health care provider given its role of treating the poor. And co-host Wolf Blitzer also pushed the former Georgia congressman on the bill’s estimated $880 billion cut to Medicaid.
No matter what was thrown at him, Price was unflappable. His answers were chipper, polished and empathetic — to a point. But he also used every opportunity to spin tough questions into a chance to spread the White House message.
“Thank goodness that things are going well from your health care standpoint,” Price told Kline. “I practiced medicine over 20 years and took care of a lot of patients with cancer. And it was one of those challenges that, when it faces you as an individual or someone in your family, you want to make certain that you’ve got access to the highest quality care that you can receive.”
Price’s town hall performance offers a glimpse into why the former orthopedic surgeon landed the job he did in the Trump administration. It also provides clues about how the deeply private man from Roswell will use his new role to remake a sector that drives one-sixth of the economy.