President-elect Donald Trump’s no-good, very bad cabinet picks keep coming: He will nominate Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, a major critic of the Affordable Care Act, for secretary of Health and Human Services.
Trump issued a press release on the nomination Tuesday, after The Washington Post and The New York Times broke the news Monday. In the release, Trump called Price “exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American.” He will be Trump's “point person” for dismantling the law, the Post reports. It has brought health insurance to millions who previously could not obtain affordable coverage and has an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination provision.
Price, an orthopedic surgeon, represents a suburban Atlanta district in Congress; he was first elected in 2004. In addition to being an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, he has a string of zeroes on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard for opposing LGBT rights. He called the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision “a sad day for marriage,” supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and even voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which allocates additional federal resources to investigate and prosecute crimes that are based on a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. He also is against abortion rights and opposes federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
If confirmed by the Senate, “Price would be responsible for a department with an annual budget of more than $1 trillion, health programs that insure more than 100 million Americans and agencies that regulate food and drugs and sponsor much of the nation’s biomedical research,” the Times notes.
Progressive groups reacted to Price's nomination with alarm. “Price’s hateful record on LGBTQ issues shows that he lacks an understanding of basic human rights and dignity,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, told The Huffington Post. He is “completely unfit for secretary of Health and Human Services,” she added.
“Yet again, Trump has tapped a Cabinet nominee with a disturbing history of putting the interests of corporations and lobbyists ahead of working families,” said a statement issued by Stephanie Taylor, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “The American people need an affordable solution — like the public option — to the skyrocketing cost of health care. Instead Tom Price wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, and gut Medicaid — stripping healthcare from millions of Americans. The American people deserve an HHS secretary who will put their lives ahead of the bottom lines of Big Pharma and Big Insurance.”
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards called Price “a grave threat to women’s health in this country.” In a press release, she continued, “If Price had his way, millions of women could be cut off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services like birth control, cancer screenings and STD tests. From his plan to take no-copay birth control away from 55 million women [by repealing Obamacare] and allow insurance companies to charge women more for the same health coverage, to his opposition to safe and legal abortion, Price could take women back decades.”
“Rep. Price and President-elect Trump want to bring our country back to a time before reproductive health care access and a woman’s right to choose; this is unacceptable,” added Shaunna Thomas, cofounder of women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet Action, in a prepared statement. “Senate Republicans and Democrats must reject Trump’s selection of Rep. Price, an extreme anti-woman activist, and protect a woman’s right to access affordable health care, including birth control.”
Funding for HIV services could be threatened as well. “It is still too early to know what a Trump administration will do,” Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told HuffPo. But, she added, “any cutback in coverage would affect those in the LGBT community, and the stakes are particularly high.”