Tom Price's Quotes About The Affordable Care Act Suggest He'll Push For Some Severe Changes
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen another member of his cabinet — and this appointment is not good news for supporters of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Trump's reported pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services is Tom Price, one of Obamacare's biggest critics. The Republican congressman from Georgia, who is also the current chairman of the House Budget Committee, has consistently worked to repeal Obamacare, both by introducing legislation and voting against it more than 50 times. In 2015, Price wrote a bill to defund Obamacare while leaving its basic structure in place, which is bad news for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as (but not limited to) people who have their birth control covered under the ACA.
As Secretary of HHS, Price would oversee a department of close to 80,000 people which is the biggest funder of medical research in the world. He would run Obamacare (until he figures out how to defund it, at least), as well as social programs including, but not limited to, Medicare and Medicaid, and health agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outside of government agencies, Price has earned a zero rating from Planned Parenthood, which certainly won't help the progression of women's reproductive rights.
Still, as The New York Times noted, Price has at least offered replacement ideas for Obamacare instead of criticizing the act without an alternative. But Price, an orthopedic surgeon, has so far approached insurance and health care from the perspective of doctors rather than certain populations of patients including Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Times. He has consistently voted conservatively, including against funding Planned Parenthood; Price also opposes abortion rights and the idea of four weeks of parental leave for federal employees.
With that in mind, here are some quotes from Price regarding the ACA:
1. "Under Obamacare, the American people are paying more for health care and getting less — less access, less quality, and fewer choices."
Price made this statement after introducing yet another piece of legislation to repeal Obamacare. While it is true that rates have gone up for some following the passage of the ACA, it's hard to say exactly how Americans have less access, especially considering that more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans got insured under Obamacare.
2. "Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration blatantly ignored the voices of the American people and rammed through a hyper-partisan piece of legislation that will have a disastrous effect on our nation's health care system."
Price made this statement in 2010 after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Still, according to the October Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, equal numbers of Americans say they view the ACA favorably as those who say they view it unfavorably: 45 percent. And according to a 2015 Commonwealth Fund report, 86 percent of people newly insured under the ACA were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their coverage. This makes Price's claim that Obama and Democrats "ignored the voices of the American people" less credible.
3. "You can't just change [Obamacare] overnight ... What we believe is important is to allow individuals voluntarily to move to the kind of health coverage that they seek for themselves and for their families. We're not going to force anybody to do anything like the Obama administration has done."
Price told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that if the ACA is repealed, there would be a transition period before the institution of a replacement act.
4. "#ObamacareInThreeWords: Unsuccessful. Unworkable. Unaffordable."
Price tweeted this harsh description of the ACA while touting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's "A Better Way" tax plan for America.
5. "Premiums have gone up, not down. Many Americans lost the health coverage they were told time and time again by the president that they could keep."
Rep. Price wrote this in a statement released on Oct. 20. But according to FactCheck.org, this idea that more Americans lost coverage under Obamacare than gained it is misleading; rather than denying people coverage, certain individual market plans were discontinued. Additionally, there is actually evidence that more people gained coverage than lost it.
Though Price can't directly repeal the ACA himself, his very clear disdain for it suggests he'll do what he can to replace it with a plan that's more appealing to the Republican party. Though the ACA will almost certainly change, it's still uncertain whether or not Trump will actually repeal it in its entirety if given the chance.