Donald Trump has selected Tom Price, Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, as his secretary of Health and Human Services.
This choice is of great significance, as Price is a fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act. His nomination represents Donald Trump’s commitment to immediately dismantle Obamacare as he promised he would throughout his presidential campaign.
Here’s what you need to know about Tom Price, the next secretary of Health and Human Services.
1. He Has Introduced Legislation to Replace Obamacare
Tom Price is a critic of Obamacare, and not only does he want to repeal it, but he also has a detailed plan for replacing it. In fact, he has been introducing an Affordable Care Act replacement during every Congress since 2009, according to The New York Times.
Price’s replacement is called the Empowering Patients First Act. Under his plan, individuals would receive refundable tax credits that they would use to purchase private insurance. Those between 18 to 35 would receive $1,200; those between 35 and 50 would receive $2,100; those over 50 would receive $3,000; and those under 18 would receive $900. Those who are already receiving government benefits would not be eligible, but individuals could opt out of programs like Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and VA benefits to receive the tax credits instead.
The Empowering Patients First Act would encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts as well, something Donald Trump also aims to achieve. Another similarity with Trump’s plan is that Price’s would allow for insurance companies to sell across state lines.
States would also receive grants to be used to set up high-risk insurance pools. However, there would be no individual mandate to ensure that both sick and healthy patients wind up in the pool, something that became a problem with the Affordable Care Act.
Also, Price’s bill specifically states that no federal funds can be used to pay for abortions, and tax credits could not fund plans that include abortion coverage. The exception would be in cases of rape or incest and when the life of the mother is in danger.
2. He Wants to Privatize Medicare
In addition to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Tom Price is in favor of radically altering Medicare.
According to The Washington Post, Price would prefer that Medicare ceases to be an entitlement program. Instead, states would receive block grants, and they would have more freedom to ignore requirements from the federal government. Also, applicants have to meet certain work requirements to receive benefits.
Price is on the same page as House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is hoping to privatize Medicare in the near future. Ryan’s plan involves transforming Medicare into a program where seniors buy private insurance using government benefits, which he says would encourage competition and lower costs. Price says that Republicans hope to tackle this sooner rather than later.
When asked when changes to Medicare might come, Price told Talking Points Memo, “I think that is probably in the second phase of reconciliation, which would have to be in the FY 18 budget resolution in the first 6-8 months.”
Donald Trump rarely discussed Medicare reforms throughout his campaign, instead focusing on the Affordable Care Act. But in 2013, Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference that Republicans should not cut Social Security or Medicare because most Americans like the programs as they are currently set up, according to PBS.
3. He Is Pro-Life, Pro-Gun & Anti-LGBT Rights
Tom Price is affiliated with the Tea Party, the conservative movement that began to gain steam in late 2009 and early 2010. In fact, Price was a member of the now inactive Tea Party Caucus, which was founded by Michele Bachmann in 2010.
Price, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2004, has a number of views that will be appealing to conservatives. As is clear from his health care plan, he is a staunch opponent of abortion. In 2011, he proposed the Protect Life Act, which would have denied government funding to health care plans that cover abortions. This was also a key aspect of his Obamacare replacement, the Empowering Patients First Act. He has been given a rating of zero by Planned Parenthood and a rating of 100 from the National Right to Life Committee, indicating an extremely pro-life stance.
He also voted against legislation requiring that insurance plans cover contraception. However, when he was a state senator in Georgia, Price voted for requiring that insurance plans require contraception. He says that this comes down to the difference between the role of the state government versus the federal government, saying, “The issue here…is whether or not the federal government ought to be deciding what health coverage is,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Price is also an opponent of gun control. In 2007, for instance, he co-sponsored a bill to repeal Washington, D.C.’s ban on semiautomatic weapons and its requirement of gun owner registration. He has received a 100 rating from the National Rifle Association.
In terms of LGBT rights, Price voted in November 2007 against a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against Americans based on their sexual orientation. He also voted to constitutionally define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and he voted against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Human Rights Campaign gives him a rating of zero percent.
4. He Supported Donald Trump During the Republican Primaries
There is reportedly some debate in Trump’s inner circle at the moment over whether Mitt Romney should receive a cabinet position considering that he did not support Trump during the Republican primaries. That won’t be a problem for Tom Price; back in May, he organized a joint statement from House Republicans stating that the party should coalesce around its nominee.
“We stand on the precipice of one of the most important elections of our lifetime,” nine lawmakers, including Price, said in a statement. “It is paramount that we coalesce around the Republican nominee, Mr. Donald J. Trump, and maintain control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.”
Other Republicans who signed the statement were Steve Chabot, Michael Conaway, Jeb Hensarling, Candice Miller, Jeff Miller, Pete Sessions, Bill Shuster and Lamar Smith.
5. He Was Previously an Orthopedic Surgeon
Before coming to Washington, D.C., Tom Price worked as an orthopedic surgeon in Georgia for two decades.
Originally born in Michigan, Price received his M.D. from the University of Michigan, going on to complete his residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He later became an assistant professor and medical director of the Orthopedic Clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he taught resident doctors, according to his official website.
After graduating from Emory University, Price settled in Roswell, Georgia, where he continues to live to this day with his wife, Elizabeth Price. He has one son, Robert Price.