Trump and Jimmy Kimmel want the same things out of health care, says HHS chief Tom Price

Key Points
  • The Health and Human Services secretary was responding to Jimmy Kimmel's emotional monologue about his son's lifesaving surgery.
  • Kimmel put a face on the concerns that many Americans have about health care coverage in the United States, Tom Price says.
  • Price argues that Americans should not fear a shift away from Obamacare.
HHS Secretary responds to viral Jimmy Kimmel monologue

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel's emotional monologue this week about his newborn son's lifesaving surgery put a face on the concerns that many Americans have about health care coverage, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Friday.

A day after the GOP's Obamacare replacement bill passed the House, Price said the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill need to do a better job communicating that "we believe every single American needs to be able to have access to the kind of coverage they want."

Price made his comments on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

During Monday's monologue on his ABC show, Kimmel said: "We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until what, a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all." A video clip of the monologue went viral, getting 22 million views on Facebook and more than 9.5 million views on YouTube as of Friday.

"Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you'd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition," Kimmel continued, referring to 2014 when Obamacare health insurance plans began taking effect.

The GOP health-care bill that passed the House on Thursday was amended to include a provision that won support from conservative holdouts. That provision would, under certain conditions, undo Obamacare's ban on letting insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions more for their insurance plans than healthy people.

Moderate Republicans initially blanched at the move. But on Wednesday, several of them agreed to support the bill after the addition of another amendment that would increase funding designed to reduce the impact of the higher premiums on people with pre-existing conditions.

Price told CNBC Americans should not fear a shift away from Obamacare.

"We don't want anybody to be without coverage, remembering that there are 20 million folks right now in this nation who said I'm going to pay a penalty. I'm going to suffer the potential from the IRS or ask for a waiver because what the federal government is doing for them as it relates to health care doesn't respond to their needs," he said. "We need a better system."

That's what President Donald Trump wants, added Price, who as a congressman from Georgia championed the GOP opposition to former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

On Monday's "Kimmel Live," the host also criticized Trump's attempt to cut federal funding for the National Institutes of Health, urging Republicans and Democrats to support health policy that protects all Americans from high medical costs.