Nearly 400 health care experts urge Congress to reject Trump’s HHS Secretary

“He has long advocated for changes in our health care system that will have devastating consequences for millions of Americans.”

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., joined at left by Vice-Chairman Todd Rokita, R-Ind., presides over a markup session as the panel presses ahead with a 10-year balanced budget plan that cuts federal health care programs and agency budgets CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., joined at left by Vice-Chairman Todd Rokita, R-Ind., presides over a markup session as the panel presses ahead with a 10-year balanced budget plan that cuts federal health care programs and agency budgets CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Nearly 400 health care researchers and medical faculty members — people who study public health and the health care system for a living — have signed an open letter urging Congress to reject Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“As researchers and faculty members who study public health, health care, and the health care system, we strongly encourage you to reject Tom Price’s nomination,” the letter begins.

“Not only is Congressperson Price accused of compromising himself with insider knowledge concerning stock trades on the health care market, but he has long advocated for changes in our health care system that will have devastating consequences for millions of Americans.”

Signatories include faculty from some of the United States’ most prestigious medical schools, and the list is still growing. Yesterday, the letter had been signed by 200 — as of publishing time, the count is now at 375.

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Price and President-elect Trump have promised to reveal their health care plan only after Price is confirmed. Based on Price’s previous proposals, however, the experts lay out a laundry list of disasters his policies could cause for the overall well-being of the American public.

For one, Price is an outspoken advocate of repealing Obamacare. Last year, he was the architect of the Empowering Patients First Act (EPFA), a replacement plan that Obama vetoed after Republicans passed it. Yet despite its flashy name, the experts point out that Price’s plan would actually result in less coverage at a higher cost for many Americans.

Price’s plan would repeal the mandate that requires that healthy individuals purchase insurance, which is deeply unpopular with Republicans. Repealing the mandate, however, is predicted to result in lower-cost, healthy individuals leaving the market. Thus, it would ultimately drive up health care premiums for everyone else — exacerbating the problem Price claims to be combating.

Price’s plan also would also lower the standard of care that insurance companies are required to provide. It would roll back the protections for people with preexisting conditions and the requirement that insurance plans cover preventative care and reproductive health. It would also allow insurance companies to establish annual and lifetime limits on coverage.

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Price is also a big opponent of Medicare, suggesting a privatization scheme that will drastically increase healthcare costs for elderly Americans, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation. He also supports letting hospitals bill people for the difference between what Medicare will pay and what the hospital charges, which is currently illegal.

“Removing these protections will enrich doctors while doing nothing to improve care, devouring the nest eggs of senior citizens in the process,” the letter reads.

3 ways Tom Price wants to cut Medicare and MedicaidThroughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly promised he would not cut Medicare or Medicaid (or…thinkprogress.orgPrice also supports turning Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over to the states. He proposes to give the states a fixed dollar amount — not tied to inflation — as funding, and to end federal oversight of the programs.

“These changes would allow states to dismantle the safety net for the nearly 70 million citizens who rely on Medicaid and CHIP — close to 20% of all Americans — including some 31 million children.”

And finally, Price is a big proponent of defunding Planned Parenthood, has said he doesn’t think that women need help paying for birth control, and has consistently voted against civil protections for LGBT individuals.

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In sum, say the health researchers, “Tom Price’s nomination would seriously compromise the health and well being of growing numbers of Americans.”

“We implore the Congress to reject Tom Price’s nomination to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, and to force the Trump administration to find a more responsible person to administrate this important federal agency.”