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Trump’s new cabinet pick is bad news for recipients of Obamacare and Medicare

Potential Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is one of Affordable Care Act’s fiercest critics.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., stands in an elevator as he arrives at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in New York. CREDIT: AP/Carolyn Kaster
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., stands in an elevator as he arrives at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in New York. CREDIT: AP/Carolyn Kaster

Rep.Tom Price (R-GA), one of the fiercest critics of the Affordable Care Act, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary. By selecting Price to lead the agency, Trump has indicated that he intends to systematically dismantle the law — despite hinting otherwise shortly after he was elected.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon, has been proposing plans to replace Obamacare since 2009. This makes him stand out among his fellow members of Congress, who have offered few ideas for how to supplant the law.

He has led efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in every Congress since 2009. That year, he introduced the Empower Patients First Act, which would put the coverage of Americans with preexisting conditions at risk, and increase health care spending. In 2012, he introduced a replacement bill that would not require insurance companies to accept people with preexisting conditions.

By tapping Price for Health and Human Services secretary, Trump has demonstrated that his statements about potentially keeping parts of the ACA, such as coverage for people with preexisting conditions, were disingenuous.

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In addition to targeting ACA, Price said shortly after Trump’s election that Republicans would attempt a major overhaul of Medicare within the year.

Price could also endanger access to reproductive health care. He has opposed abortion and said that all women can afford birth control. In 2012, when asked by ThinkProgress what he would say to low-income women who can’t afford contraception without the help of their insurance provider, Price responded, “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one. The fact of the matter is, this is a trampling of religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”

Price also has a long record of opposing LGBTQ rights. When same-sex marriage passed last year, Price said it was a “sad day for marriage” and “a destruction of our entire system of checks and balances.”

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The ACA has a nondiscrimination provision that includes gender identity and sex stereotyping. Without it, LGBTQ people may encounter more difficulty accessing medical care. The provision that people can’t be denied insurance if they have a pre-existing condition also benefits those with HIV.