Donald Trump has appointed another cabinet member this week, this time appointing former Georgia Senator and House Representative Tom Price to serve as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. As the leader of the 80,000 person department, Price would oversee all of the major government healthcare programs including Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare, the Children's Health Insurance Program, the FDA, the CDC, and the NIH (the list goes on). Price would also oversee different issues such as vaccines, medical research and public health issues.
That being said, Price, who was an orthopedic surgeon before he ran for office, has had a fairly awful track record when it comes to the health policies he's pushed for (and voted against) over the course of his political career. Many of his choices indicate to us that, as Secretary, he could seriously restrict or even eliminate the accessible women's reproductive healthcare and healthcare for people of the LGBTQ+ community that millions of Americans benefit from.
While the future of our nation's healthcare system and Obamacare remains unclear, here are some examples of why Tom Price has the potential to endanger the healthcare for women and queer folx.
1. He's an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act
Since the policy was enacted in 2010, Price has opposed Obama's program time and time again. Even though the ACA has provided millions of Americans, including women, seniors, families, and people with disabilities, with adequate health care, Price continues to believe that it should be struck down believing that the policy comes from a "stifling and oppressive federal government." As Secretary, he'll have the power to do just that.
One of the mandates he's specifically challenged time and time again is the ACA's contraceptive coverage mandate, on the grounds that it violates religious freedom. Back in 2012, Price said that "there's not one" woman in America who can't afford to pay for birth control (because, as a man who's never paid for birth control his entire life, he's the go-to expert on this). The replacement policies he does support, such as Paul Ryan's "A Better Way" plan, would leave millions without health insurance coverage.
2. He's voted for defunding Planned Parenthood and anti-abortion legislation.
It's no surprise that Price currently has a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood's Congressional Scorecard. He's voted to defund Planned Parenthood repeatedly and challenged any federal funding for abortion practices. Among other legislative decisions, he's voted for the Conscience Protection Act in July 2016 that would allow bosses to interfere in a woman's personal medical decisions, he's voted to overturn laws in Washington D.C. that protected employees against discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, bills that prevent abortion providers from participating in Medicaid, banning abortion at 20 weeks, and numerous other bills that restrict abortion access in states and limit women's access to adequate healthcare. He's voted against Title X family planning funding to programs (such as PP) that provide abortions, something that could now put the organization in jeopardy.
The Empowering Patients First Act that Price first proposed in 2015 would also limit the use of federal funds for abortions or health coverage that includes abortion in its policies. Just in 2016 alone, Price has voted six times against legislation that could expand abortion access while sponsoring numerous controversial anti-abortion bills.
3. He's against LGBTQ+ rights
With a 0 from The Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard, it's safe to say that Price will not be a friend to queer community. He's repeatedly voted against legislation that could protect LGBTQ+ citizens from discrimination in schools and places of employment, such as the Equality Act. According to the New York Times, on the day that same-sex marriage was legalized, Price said that it was "not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balance." Let's not forget that Price also voted against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which was designed to include protection for LGBTQ+ people.
Numerous people from this community rely on ACA and services like Planned Parenthood for everything from contraception to hormones if they're transitioning to STD testing. LGBTQ Americans are already more likely to be uninsured than the non-LGBTQ+ population. Most recently, the Obama administration told health care providers could not deny any health care that is related to gender transition. Trans people are already some of the most vulnerable populations in our country. For many, this access to affordable health care is a crucial lifeline but it's possible that Price could undo these past few years of progress.
Price's voting record is, well, bleak for the future of America. Staunchly against any kind of civil rights legislation, Price has voted against everything from equal pay and same-sex marriage to affirmative action. Maybe he believes that his policies will change the American health care system for the better, but it's safe to say that Price's future policy changes will only end up hurting the lives of women and LGBTQ+ people across the country. Numerous people from different marginalized minority groups and people from lower-income households rely on the services under the HHS umbrella.
However, organizations like Planned Parenthood don't plan on going down without a fight. Destiny Lopez, co-director of All Above All, a Reproductive Justice group, told Mic: "Price has voted for extreme bans on abortion care and coverage and vowed to end Obamacare. This nomination is yet another signal that Trump plans to make good on his promise to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood and punish women who have abortions by making the Hyde Amendment permanent. Trump has no mandate to take away women's basic rights and we plan to fight these heinous proposals every step of the way."
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