UPDATE, November 29, 8:54 a.m.: Trump announced Tuesday morning that Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) would be his selection to lead Health and Human Services, explaining in a statement that he was “exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare,” according to the Washington Post.
Anti-choice Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is reportedly one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top choices to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Price, who worked as an orthopedic surgeon before he was elected to the Georgia Senate, is a front-runner for the top spot at HHS, Politico reported Friday. The Georgia representative threw his support behind Trump during the presidential election; he said on Morning Joe in June that he had “confidence that [Trump] would bring around him people that are actually able to get it done,” in order to move the country in a “better direction.”
That direction includes repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Price cited the importance of the issue while campaigning for Trump, claiming that the Republican presidential ticket was a way to “make sure we put in place a real health solution.”
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If he were to become HHS secretary, Price could lead the charge in rolling back the ACA’s birth control benefit, which requires employer-sponsored health insurance plans to cover contraception as preventive care with no cost to the consumer. Price has long been an opponent of the benefit and dismissed those who could not otherwise afford contraception in a 2012 interview with ThinkProgress.
“Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one,” Price said, referring to women who cannot afford contraception. “There’s not one. The fact of the matter is, this is a trampling of religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”
As a member of Congress, Price pushed legislation to repeal and replace the ACA, most notably by introducing the Empowering Patients First Act in 2015.
As the House Budget Committee chairperson, Price played a role in the 2015 budget reconciliation package that would have defunded Planned Parenthood and gutted key provisions of the ACA had it not been vetoed by President Obama.
Price told the Hill Thursday that Republicans planned to use the budget reconciliation bill they passed in 2015 again this year, with only minor changes. When asked if the bill would include the provision defunding Planned Parenthood, Price said the discussions are “still ongoing.”
A vocal critic of Planned Parenthood, Price has repeatedly voted to defund the reproductive health organization, even though the Hyde Amendment already bans most federal funding for abortion care. Anti-choice group National Right to Life found that Price has voted in alignment with the group’s interests in 100 percent of House votes they have scored.
Price in 2007 co-sponsored the Right to Life Act, an extreme “personhood” bill that sought to grant fetuses and zygotes full legal protection under the U.S. Constitution. He also co-sponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in 2015, a 20-week abortion ban based on the medically and scientifically unsupported claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point in a pregnancy.