Health De­part­ment nom­i­nee Price op­poses Oba­macare

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - – AP

AS A con­gress­man, Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can Tom Price has been thwarted in his hopes to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act and trans­form Medi­care into a voucher-like pro­gramme for future par­tic­i­pants.

Now, as Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s choice to run the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, Price will wield great power as Trump’s top health pol­icy ad­viser and pre­side, Repub­li­cans hope, over the dis­man­tle­ment of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture health care law.

Price, 62, car­ries him­self with a sur­geon’s con­fi­dence and pos­sesses deep knowl­edge of health pol­icy. He is one of very few Repub­li­cans to ac­tu­ally pro­pose a re­place­ment for Oba­macare, and prom­ises to be a staunchly con­ser­va­tive voice in Trump’s Cab­i­net.

As chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee, Price emerged as a top ad­vo­cate of Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to trans­form Medi­care from a pro­gramme that sup­plies a de­fined set of ben­e­fits into a “pre­mium sup­port” model that would, sim­i­lar to Oba­macare, of­fer sub­si­dies for par­tic­i­pants to pur­chase health care di­rectly from in­surance com­pa­nies. He also wants the Medi­care el­i­gi­bil­ity age to rise to 67.

Price also sup­ports, as does Trump, a plan by House Repub­li­cans to sharply cut the Med­i­caid health pro­gramme for the poor and disabled and turn it over to the states to run. Like Trump and most other Repub­li­cans, Price wants fed­eral fund­ing with­drawn from Planned Par­ent­hood, which has come un­der at­tack for its prac­tice of sup­ply­ing tis­sue from aborted fe­tuses to med­i­cal re­searchers.

AF­FORD­ABLE HEALTH CARE

Trump has said he op­poses GOP plans to pro­vide vouch­ers for future Medi­care ben­e­fi­cia­ries and GOP sup­port for the idea has never been tested beyond its in­clu­sion in non-bind­ing bud­get blue­prints. Price’s plan would re­quire peo­ple who are now in their late 50s to ac­cept the Medi­care sub­si­dies, which crit­ics say would fail to keep pace with in­fla­tion and force higher out-of-pocket costs like de­ductibles and co-pay­ments.

Trump named Price on Tues­day and called him “a tire­less prob­lem solver and the go-to ex­pert on health care pol­icy, mak­ing him the ideal choice” to run HHS.

“He is ex­cep­tion­ally qual­i­fied to shep­herd our com­mit­ment to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare,” Trump said.

But Democrats re­acted with alarm, though they lack the power to block Price be­cause of a change to fil­i­buster rules they or­ches­trated when con­trol­ling the Se­nate.

“Con­gress­man Price has proven to be far out of the main­stream of what Amer­i­cans want when it comes to Medi­care, the Af­ford­able Care Act, and Planned Par­ent­hood,” said in­com­ing Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY. “Thanks to those three pro­grammes, mil­lions of Amer­i­can se­niors, fam­i­lies, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and women have ac­cess to qual­ity, af­ford­able health care. Nom­i­nat­ing Con­gress­man Price to be the HHS sec­re­tary is akin to ask­ing the fox to guard the hen house.”

In this June 2012 file photo, Kamia Funchess has her vi­tals checked by Taisha Romero at the Wil­liam F. Ryan Com­mu­nity Health Cen­ter in New York. In a mo­men­tous rul­ing touch­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery Amer­i­can, the Supreme Court nar­rowly up­held Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s his­toric health-care over­haul that month.

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