During his campaign Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and rid Washington of of political insiders who’ve rigged the system. Yet one by one, as president-elect Trump nominates the leaders of his new administration, the swamp seems to be overflowing. So we created the Swamp-O-Meter for each nominee that takes into account the number of years as a politician or working in Washington, net worth, connections to big money, personal conflicts of interest, and any history of racist and homophobic behavior.
Tom Price, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, is a 3 out of 5 on the Swamp-O-Meter. He’s been an establishment politician for nearly 20 years, is a multi-millionaire, and believes that not a single woman needs assistance accessing contraception. It’s getting swampy in here!
8 reasons Tom Price’s nomination for secretary of health and human services would con the very people Trump promised to help
- Tom Price’s idea of replacing the ACA would hike up prices and cut benefits for the most vulnerable. Oh yeah, he’s also anti-Medicare.
Rep. Price hates the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Like really hates it. He supported shutting down the government over Obamacare; referred to it as tyranny before the ACA even became a law; and said it undermines “freedom and liberty” and would turn doctors into slaves.
If the Affordable Care Act were repealed today, more than 22 million people would lose health coverage. And yet, year after year, Rep. Price has introduced an unwieldy replacement for the ACA that would increase costs and cut benefits for older and sicker Americans—those who depend on health insurance the most. While canceling financial and health security for lower-income Americans, he would expand Health Savings Accounts, which are tax shelters for the wealthy.
Rep. Price doesn’t seem to care that 587,845 consumers in Georgia are enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance coverage through the marketplace. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, “76 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 2,358,000 in Georgia.”
- Worse idea ever: Price would allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
When Republicans were trying (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2012, Rep. Price led the troops with a replacement bill that would not require insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions if they had any gap in coverage. When asked why he omitted that provision, Price said that guaranteeing access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions was “a terrible idea.”
And yet, it’s one of the most popular provisions across the aisle and across the country.
- Remember when Tom Price said there’s not one woman who has been left behind from having access to contraceptives? Yeah, he said that.
In a 2012 interview with ThinkProgress, Rep. Price was asked what would happen to the women who would be left behind if President Barck Obama’s contraceptive coverage rule were to be rescinded. Price’s response: “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one.”
- Shocker: Tom Price voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
Rep. Price has consistently voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Last year, when the House voted to cut federal funding for the organization, Price had this to say: “This effort is not about party ideology; it is about common, human decency and who we are as a people.” Price is avidly anti-abortion: He received a 0 percent on Planned Parenthood’s annual scorecard and a 100 percent on National Right to Life’s annual scorecard. And, like many of his GOP colleagues, he ignores the fact that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activity is preventive care, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and more.
- Tom Price’s idea of a health care plan? Privatize Medicare and cut funding for Medicaid.
In addition to wanting to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, charge women for birth control, and repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Price also supports hugely damaging changes to Medicare and Medicaid—programs that cover nearly one in three Americans. If Price has his way, both programs would stop being entitlements required to provide coverage to everyone who qualifies for them.
Rep. Price, like many of his GOP colleagues, supports block granting Medicaid, which would shift control of the program to states while massively cutting federal funding. But giving states more control over the program would allow them much more room to change eligibility rules and medical services that must be provided under the program. Combined with the funding cuts, this would eventually lead to millions of beneficiaries losing coverage.
For Medicare, Price, again like many of his GOP colleagues, supports privatization of the program through vouchers that would be capped, regardless of the actual cost of a plan. This scheme would transfer costs to many seniors and come as a shock to Trump supporters who listened when he promised he wouldn’t cut their Medicare benefits.
- The Affordable Care Act isn’t the only thing Rep. Price doesn’t believe in. He’s also a climate denier.
Price once told the Republican Study Committee that climate change “goes against all common sense, especially considering the many recent revelations of errors and obfuscation in the allegedly ‘settled science’ of global warming.” Ninety-seven percent of scientists disagree with him. And given the enormous public health threats posed by climate change, this should be concerning.
- Price doesn’t believe in marriage equality, and his plans to repeal the ACA would directly harm LGBT people.
Rep. Price has a terrible record when it comes to rights for LGBT people. He called the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality a “sad day for marriage” and, while in Congress, sponsored constitutional amendments to define marriage as between one man and one woman. And during his time as the Georgia Senate majority leader, he ushered through a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Price’s opposition of the Affordable Care Act would have devastating consequences for the LGBT community. The nondiscrimination provisions of the ACA explicitly protect LGBT people from discrimination, and the law has helped drastically reduce the uninsured rate among the community. Since LGBT people are more likely to lack health insurance coverage compared to non-LGBT people and face health disparities and barriers to quality care that the ACA works to address, Price’s appointment could have severe, negative consequences for the health of LGBT people nationwide.
- Tom Price’s plan to repeal the ACA would cut tax credits for more than 6 million people in the states Trump won.
People living in Republican-led states—and the states that Trump won—stand to lose the most from Tom Price’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Three million people living in states represented by Republican senators are currently receiving tax credits through the ACA to help afford their health insurance, according to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. If you expand the list to include swing states that Trump won—such as Florida and Pennsylvania—that number grows to 6 million people. The ACA tax credits are meant to help low- or moderate-income people afford monthly payments for health insurance plans. A repeal of the law would eliminate these subsidies and likely make health insurance unaffordable for millions of people.
It’s not just Obamacare, Tom Price spells doom for Medicare too
Did we mention that Rep. Price hates the Affordable Care Act? He does. And that’s been well-documented. But the ACA isn’t the only thing at stake with Price in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services. Rep. Price is also one of Medicare’s biggest enemies.
Price—who celebrated the 44th anniversary of Medicare by saying, “nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government’s intrusion into medicine through Medicare”—has spent his career attacking Medicare, and he doesn’t plan on stopping now. He is reportedly hoping to overhaul Medicare “within the first six to eight months” of the Trump administration. He’s planning to do it through a process called budget reconciliation—the same process GOP lawmakers plan on using to repeal the ACA—which would allow major policy changes without securing a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
Price hasn’t specified what, exactly, his Medicare overhaul would entail, but privatization of Medicare has long been a priority for conservative lawmakers. This could look like House Speaker Paul Ryan’s idea of “premium support,” which would effectively change the current Medicare system—under which the government pays hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers directly—to one where Medicare enrollees would each get a check to buy their own insurance on a private market. This kind of change would take power away from Medicare enrollees and give it to private insurers. And the consequences could be grave: Previous similar proposals would cut the program to cover fewer people, offer enrollees fewer benefits, and open the door to charging much higher premiums to the people facing the most serious health challenges.
How you can #ResistPrice
The secretary of health and human services must be confirmed by a majority of the Senate Finance Committee and a majority vote on the floor of the Senate. Several members of the Senate Finance Committee—including Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Pat Toomey (R-PA)—have already shown support for Price before even scheduling hearings or submitting any questions for the nominee.
Call, write, and tweet the members of the Senate Finance Committee and demand that they stand up against the grave threat that Price poses to national public health:
- Orrin Hatch (202.224.5251)
- Chuck Grassley (202.224.3744)
- Mike Crapo (202.224.6142)
- Pat Roberts (202.224.4774)
- Michael B. Enzi (202.224.3424)
- John Cornyn (202.224.2934)
- John Thune (202.224.2321)
- Richard Burr (202.224.3154)
- Johnny Isakson (202.2243643)
- Rob Portman (202.224.3353)
- Pat Toomey (202.224.4254)
- Dean Heller (202.224.6244)
- Tim Scott (202.224.6121)
- Bill Cassidy (R-LA) at 202.224.5824