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Biden Adviser Spars With MSNBC Host Over Health Care Provisions in Stimulus Package

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Senior White House official Cedric Richmond and MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan shared a heated discussion over why the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package includes $35 billion to cover COBRA costs.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) “gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time.”

During Hasan’s show on Tuesday, he noted it is the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. He asked Richmond how spending $35 billion on COBRA costs is a good use of money and suggested it would be better to build universal health care.

“Well, clearly, you have health insurance right now,” Richmond replied. “The question is, you ought to pose that to people who have lost their job through no fault of their own, that has lost their health insurance, and they need a bridge, so that they stay with insurance.”

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Richmond argued, “It’s very easy for people to make judgment calls when they’re not in other people’s shoes, and I won’t do that. I won’t put a price on lives.”

“Hold on. Let me finish,” Richmond said, as Hasan tried to interrupt.

Richmond said, “Did we rise to the moment? Yes. Did we spend $1.9 trillion? We did, you know why? Because there was $1.9 trillion worth of problems in this country that we were trying to fix.”

Hasan explained if the Biden administration can afford to spend $35 billion on COBRA, why not spend it on a universal health care system.

“Remember, this is a response to a pandemic. If we didn’t have COVID-19, you wouldn’t see us doing that COBRA appropriation,” Richmond said.

He continued, “Remember, this is in response to people losing their jobs through no fault of their own, and if you don’t have COVID-19 out there, people are not losing their jobs in record numbers through no fault of their own.”

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