Price backs Senate health care bill, admits getting votes will be tough

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price argued Sunday the Senate’s recently released health care bill will significantly improve the current Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, and will include protection of Americans’ medical coverage, but acknowledged having to “thread a needle” to get the measure passed.

“The important thing to appreciate is that where we’re headed right now is in the wrong direction,” Price told “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a move in a much better direction … where patients and doctors will be making the decisions, not Washington.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday released the plan. Five GOP senators currently do not support the measure.

McConnell will need support from at least 50 of his 52 GOP senators to get the bill passed and hopes to have a vote by as early as this week.

“We’re talking with every one of them,” Price said Sunday. “Conversations are ongoing. That’s what we’re working on this week. That’s the legislative process. … It’s a thin needle to thread.”

No Democratic senators support the draft of the bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The House passed its version -- the American Health Care Act -- this spring.

Price, the White House’s point man on the issue, said the bill would end mandates on coverage, provide insurance reform to create market stability and give flexibility to states on implementing the law, instead of a “top-down, Washington-knows-best” strategy.

"Nobody will fall through the cracks, nobody will have the rug pulled from under them," he also said. “We believe we’ll get more individuals covered than are covered right now.