Trump's First 100 Days

How Tom Price plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and scale back other Health and Human Services resources

Frankie Prijatel | Senior Staff Photographer

Tom Price, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, sides with Trump in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Price, the United States’ 23rd secretary of health and human services, is looking to scale back Medicaid and Medicare and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Price, 62, was confirmed on Feb. 10 to a vote of 52 to 47. Formerly an orthopedic surgeon and faculty member at the Emory University School of Medicine, he became a congressman representing Georgia in 2005 and chair of the House Budget Committee in 2015. In addition to his opposition to the ACA, he has also expressed views against abortion and transgender bathroom rights.

Price’s confirmation came with controversy. In one of his Senate confirmation hearings, Democrats questioned his more than $100,000 in stock in companies that could have benefited from legislation he promoted, according to The New York Times. Price defended himself, saying, “Everything that I did was ethical, aboveboard, legal and transparent.”

Price’s alternative to former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is the Empowering Patients First Act, one of the most comprehensive of the many Republican alternatives. The 31 states that approved billions of dollars for Medicaid expansion would not receive that money, according to The New York Times. More than 73 million people were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in August 2016, according to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Price has said the biggest problem he has with Obamacare is that it puts the government between doctors and patients, according to NPR.

“They believe the government ought to be in control of health care,” Price said in June at the American Enterprise Institute event, per NPR. “We believe that patients and doctors should be in control of health care.”

The Empowering Patients Act would make it easier for younger people to afford health care by allowing insurers to determine how much they charge older patients, according to Vox. Additionally, while the act would make sure insurers cover people no matter how sick they are, they could charge more if the patient does not have “continuous coverage.”

Another key difference is that Obamacare’s tax credits are based on income, but Price’s tax credits would be based on age, according to Vox.

It will also be easier for doctors to defend themselves against malpractice lawsuits, enter private contracts with Medicare beneficiaries and be generally “exempt” from antitrust laws, per The New York Times.

Price cannot repeal the ACA on his own, but there are some provisions in place that make it easier for him to block future amendments, such as the “secretary shall” clauses, according to The Atlantic. Republicans have tried to eliminate all or part of Obamacare five dozen times, but were not successful while Obama was still in office, according to The Washington Post. The party’s first attempt to reform health care under President Donald Trump was also unsuccessful.

Democrats have expressed opposition to Price’s plans to dismantle the ACA, such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), according to The Washington Post.

“Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood,” Schumer said in a statement, per The Washington Post. “Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities and women have access to quality, affordable health care. Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house.”

Price and Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will also have control over the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, per The Atlantic. The center was established as a grantor and innovation lab to address health cost drivers in different states, and Price has already expressed objection to it.

Price has also expressed views against transgender rights. He called the protections the Obama administration put in place “absurd” and “a clear invasion of privacy,” according to Time. The Human Rights Campaign sent a letter of opposition to Price’s confirmation in January.

Price has also expressed views against Planned Parenthood, abortion and birth control, according to The Atlantic.


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