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Sanjay Gupta, Tom Price clash during CNN appearance over GOP proposed 'skinny plans'

In a pre-taped interview on Anderson Cooper 360, Gupta pressed Price on the efficacy of these plans.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Photo courtesy <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dr._Sanjay_Gupta.jpg"> Dnd523 </a>Photo courtesy Dnd523

Sanjay Gupta, M.D. is pressing Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on one of those concerns -- so-called "skinny plans," which may not provide coverage for serious conditions. Gupta made his case on CNN this week, as GOP-sponsored proposals draw concern from many Americans about their coverage.

These skinny plans have been touted by those on the right as a cost effective means of providing coverage, but critics have noted that these bare-bones plans only cover the basic necessities, and would leave some out in the cold if they were stricken by a serious ailment or suffered a catastrophic injury.

In a pre-taped interview on Anderson Cooper 360, Gupta pressed Price on the efficacy of these plans.

[Also: Tom Price might soften bundled payments, but healthcare orgs will stay the course]

"Some of the skinny plans don't offer inpatient care, for example," said Gupta. "I just find that extraordinary. If you're a young person and you're immortal in your own mind, but suddenly you're diagnosed with a disease or you get in some sort of traumatic accident, you're going to need inpatient care. You bought the skinny plan, you don't have that covered. Isn't that the nature of insurance, Mr. Secretary? You don't know what you're going to need until you need it."

"And you've got 20 million people in this country who have said, 'Nonsense,'" responded Price. "'I'm not going to be forced to do what you want me to do because I don't believe it's necessary for me.'"

It was a comment that hinted at a long-held point of contention among Republicans: the ACA's mandate that people purchase insurance or face a penalty. The mandate was designed to help keep costs down, but those on the right have complained that it infringes on an individual's right to choose.

[Also: Tom Price ducks questions about promoting Obamacare exchanges in 2018]

Gupta noted that without the mandate, those in skinny plans could potentially get into an accident, leaving the rest of Americans in the healthcare system to foot the bill.

"What I'm saying is that in an effort to get those people covered, what you may offer is plans that are cheap, but useless," said Gupta. "That's the concern. People would go to the hospital and find out they didn't have things covered and it was part of the reason people say that healthcare costs were the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States."

"So wouldn't we as a compassionate society step back and say, 'OK, that's a real problem and we need to address it?'" said Price. "That's what we're trying to do."

Price acknowledged citizens' concerns over a replacement plan by noting that the GOP's proposals are something "new" and "different," but said he "absolutely" thinks everyone should have health insurance.

After the pre-taped interview, Gupta told Cooper that a new Republican proposal would likely seek to take away certain essential health benefits, effectively removing the guarantee that an individual's health plan would cover certain conditions. He also reiterated that if someone's health plan didn't cover what that person needed, the costs for any care they seek would be transmitted to everyone else.

"Yes, it's cheap," said Gupta. "But if it's not doing what you hope it would do, those costs are going to get defrayed to everyone else."

Twitter: @JELagasse

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