Trump has selected Georgia Congressman and chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price to serve as secretary for health and human services, a pick that has many progressives nervous about the future of reproductive healthcare access and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Department of Health and Human Services manages an annual budget of over $1 trillion, oversees the health insurance of more than 100 million Americans, including setting Medicare policies, controls the agencies that regulate food and drugs, and directs funds to biomedical research.
Price, who was the medical director of an orthopedic clinic and came to Congress in 2004, is known as one of the staunchest opponents of Obama’s ACA, introducing plans to repeal and replace the law in every Congress since 2009. Price supports privatizing Medicare, and has introduced legislation that would allow doctors to essentially opt out of Medicare and charge higher prices.
Many are concerned that Price would seek to cut the ACA requirement that employer-sponsored health insurance plans cover contraception at no cost to their female employees. When asked by Think Progress in 2012 what he would say to low-income women who couldn’t afford birth control if it wasn’t covered by their health insurance, he replied “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one. The fact of the matter is, this is a trampling of religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”
Despite the fact that his most frequent critique of the ACA is that it “interferes with the ability of patients and doctors to make medical decisions,” Price is an opponent of abortion and contraception access. He voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood and has accused them of engaging in “barbaric” practices.
In 2007, Price co-sponsored the Right to Life Act which would have granted fetuses and zygotes the rights of people under the Constitution. In 2015, he sponsored a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. He has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee and a zero rating from Planned Parenthood.