Donald Trump and his transition team have chosen Georgia Congressman and physician Tom Price as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. HHS Secretary is a cabinet-level position requiring Senate confirmation. Here’s what you need to know about Price and the HHS position:
Who Is Tom Price?
Thomas Edmunds “Tom” Price is originally from Michigan, where he received his medical degree. Price completed his residency at Emory University and settled in Roswell, GA, where he still lives. As a physician, Price ran an orthopedic clinic for 20 years, taught orthopedic surgery at Emory’s medical school, and ran the orthopedic clinic at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital.
In 1996, Price entered the political arena by winning a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, which he held until winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by running unopposed in the general election. He remained in Congress until being tapped as Donald Trump’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Tom Price’s Political Positions
As a politician, Tom Price is a staunchly conservative Republican. Excluding positions without a direct correlation to health and human services, here are some of Price’s views and votes:
- Tom Price opposes abortion and supported the proposed Protect Life Act, which would have denied Obamacare (PPACA) funding to health care plans that offered abortion, although the PPACA already prevented public funding for abortions.
- The Protect Life Act that Price supported also allowed hospitals to decline to provide emergency abortion care. Price has been rated 100 out of 100 by the National Right to Life Center, and a zero by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
- Price has voted to block funding for Planned Parenthood, which primarily provides female health exams, cancer screenings, STD screenings, education services, and planning services designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Approximately 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion-related services.
- Price supported a “personhood” bill, which would have granted unborn fetuses equal rights under the 14th Amendment.
- Price supports making women pay copays for contraception, arguing that all women (including low-income women) can afford it, and citing religious liberty as a reason for insurance plans not to cover it.
- Price opposed a bill that would have provided four weeks of parental leave for federal employees.
- Tom Price voted against a bill prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation in November 2007.
- Price voted in favor of constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman in July 2006.
- Price voted against H.R. 2965, which would have ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization.
- Price opposes gun control. He was given an “A” grade by the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, a 92% approval rating overall from the National Rifle Association and an 83% approval rating from the Gun Owners of America, and a 0% approval rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
- Price is strongly opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as Obamacare), and has repeatedly introduced the Empowering Patients First Act (EPFA) as a legislative replacement.
Nominated Position: Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
According to NPR:
As HHS secretary, Price would not only oversee Obamacare as it currently exists, but also run the government’s largest social programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He would also have authority over the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other major health agencies.
HHS employs nearly 80,000 people and is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.
Secretary of Health and Human Services is a hugely influential position, as HHS dictates policy that affects nearly all Americans in very personal ways, including: availability and affordability of health insurance, women’s health practices and rights, healthcare protections for LGBTQ patients and partners, “safety net” care for children, the poor, and the elderly, pharmaceutical drug approval processes, medical research priorities, and parental leave policies.
The selection of Tom Price as HHS Secretary will likely please the most conservative elements of the Republican Party and anger Democrats, liberals, and some moderates. Price’s fiercely conservative record and policy agenda raise significant concerns regarding the healthcare future of women, LGBTQ citizens, and people dependent on Medicare and Medicaid, as well as healthcare organizations that depend on federal funding.
Like most of Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments, Tom Price is likely to be confirmed as HHS Secretary due to Republican control of the Senate. If you would like to express your support or opposition to any nominations, contact your Senator and tell them what you think.