Topics: Obamacare

Harry Reid dismisses cancer patient Tom Coburn's Obamacare concern

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Obamacare,Senate,Harry Reid,Tom Coburn

When Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., pointed out that the majority of cancer centers in the country aren't covered under Obamacare while arguing that the law's problems go beyond early website issues, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the critique as too "in the weeds."

Coburn, a medical doctor battling cancer, panned the coverage offered to cancer patients.

"Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under Obamacare," he told the Washington Examiner Tuesday, a data point he attributed to the low payments the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments.

"You know, it's a market, and what they've done is they've priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them, aren't going to participate because they don't get paid to cover the costs," he said. Coburn, who is retiring at the end of this year, said his cancer center initially refused to accept the government health insurance, but has since reversed that policy.

Reid suggested that Coburn was taking too narrow a view of the law. "Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense, but I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill," he replied when asked about Coburn's comments during a Senate press briefing. "It really brings a lot of people in from the cold so that they have the ability to get health insurance, which they've never had the opportunity [to do] before."

Reid hailed the White House's announcement that seven million people had enrolled in insurance through Obamacare, but Coburn said the statistic is a "numbers game."

"You had six million who lost their insurance, how many net new people got covered? How many who lost their insurance don't have insurance today?" Coburn asked. "And is it affordable? ... The ones that lost their insurance now have [Obamacare], and we don't know what that number is. I guarantee you three-quarters of them are paying a significantly higher cost, have a higher co-pay and a higher deductible."

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