STATEMENT: Neera Tanden on Rep. Tom Price’s Nomination to HHS Secretary
Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden made the following statement on Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) being nominated for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, or HHS:
Rep. Tom Price is not qualified to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. His ideas are so extreme and out of touch with the mainstream that he shows no concern for improving the health and livelihood of working Americans. He supports taking health care away from millions of Americans, discriminates against the health needs of women, denies the dignity of LGBT people, and wants to gut programs that support low-income working families.
One can simply look to his berating and badgering of an employee of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office during a committee hearing earlier this year to see how Rep. Price approaches his role in government. It’s this kind of subversion of norms, undermining of institutions, and blatant disregard for objectivity and facts that is coming to define the nascent Trump administration.
CAP also offers the following background on Rep. Price’s disqualification to serve in this role.
Affordable Care Act
Rep. Price has proposed repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, without offering any replacement that comes close to providing comparable coverage. His proposed replacement plan for the ACA would increase costs and cut benefits for the older and sicker Americans who depend on health insurance the most. He wants to eliminate financial and health security for lower-income Americans and instead give the wealthy a tax shelter by expanding health savings accounts. Rep. Price would also allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions who have any gap in coverage and quarantine people locked out of private insurance into severely underfunded high-risk pools.
Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP
Rep. Price does not share the values of the majority of Americans or even of his congressional colleagues. He voted repeatedly against the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which many Republicans support. He also voted to privatize Medicare with vouchers that are capped, regardless of the actual cost of a plan. This idea goes against President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to not cut Medicare benefits.
Health care for women and LGBT people
Rep. Price is an enemy to the millions of women who rely on affordable access to reproductive health care. In 2012, when asked what he would say to low-income women who might lose access to birth control, he callously responded: “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one.” He has also voted to defund Planned Parenthood and limit access to safe, legal abortion.
Rep. Price has consistently stood against equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people. He has decried Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that brought the freedom to marry nationwide, and voted against nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers and LGBT people who are victims of hate violence. Given the significant increase in the number of LGBT people able to access meaningful insurance coverage under the protections of the ACA, elevating one of the law’s staunchest opponents would have devastating consequences on the health of the LGBT community.
Programs for low-income people and families
Rep. Price has been at the forefront of conservative efforts to slash critical investments that alleviate poverty and expand opportunity. As House Budget Committee chair, he proposed a budget that gets three-fifths of its cuts from programs that help low- and moderate-income Americans, while protecting tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Price would oversee many of the very same programs he wants to slash—from Head Start to heating assistance for struggling families to child care to vital services for seniors and people with disabilities. His nomination is a recipe for exacerbating poverty and inequality across the country, and gutting early childhood programs that support working parents and give children a fair start.
Additionally, CAP Vice President for Health Policy Topher Spiro made the following statement on Seema Verma’s nomination to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:
Seema Verma does not understand the plight of working Americans. She thinks that making low-income people pay $100 per month for health insurance is empowering. She thinks that a $1,100 insurance deductible may be too low. She even likes the idea of limiting the amount of benefits an insurance company must pay out each year and over a lifetime. The last thing working Americans need is more skin in the game in the form of extra costs; they need certainty that their health care will not be taken away from them.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Liz Bartolomeo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.8151.