As chair of the House Budget Committee, Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price (R-GA) authored a budget that would have cut Medicare spending by $449 billion and Medicaid by over $1 trillion.
It’s a sharp break with the position President-elect Donald Trump took while he was still a candidate for public office — Trump told the conservative Heritage Foundation that “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”
In an exchange with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (R-MA) during Price’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Price repeatedly refused to say that he would “safeguard President-elect Trump’s promise” if confirmed to become the Trump administration’s top health official.
After Warren first asked whether Price would pledge not to cut Medicare or Medicaid, Price dodged the question, instead claiming that Warren is wrong to care about how much money is spent to provide health care to poor people and the elderly.
“What the question presumes” Price claimed, “is that money is the metric.” Trump’s nominee continued that “if patents aren’t receiving care, even though we are providing the resources, then it doesn’t work for patients.”
Although Warren asked two more times if Price would commit to keeping the leader of his party’s promise, Price simply reiterated his view that the amount of money spent on seniors and the less fortunate is not an appropriate “metric.”
Price did not elaborate on how he plans to help patients who “aren’t receiving care” while simultaneously cutting a trillion-and-a-half dollars from the nation’s two largest health programs.
In addition to supporting significant cuts to Medicare, it is also worth noting that Price supports repealing Medicare and replacing it with a voucher program. Such a program could raise out-of-pocket costs for seniors by as much as 40 percent even if it was not accompanied by the same level of major Medicare cuts that Price also supports.