by Maggie Fox
Dec. 21, 2016
The Georgia Republican congressman being nominated to head the Health and Human Services Department next year under a new Trump administration would gut Obamacare and replace it with plans that favor the well-to-do, two experts argued Wednesday.
They say Rep. Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon, would free insurance companies to return to some of their worst abuses of patients and take away subsidies that help the poor afford medical care.
If he had his way, he'd funnel federal money to people who do not need it, the two former HHS officials who are now health policy experts argue in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Price has sponsored legislation that supports making armor-piercing bullets more accessible and opposing regulation on cigars, and he has voted against regulating tobacco as a drug," Sherry Glied, dean of the graduate school of public service at New York University, and Richard Frank, a health care policy professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote in their joint commentary.
"He has also voted against funding for combating AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis; against expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program; and in favor of allowing hospitals to turn away Medicaid and Medicare patients seeking nonemergency care if they could not afford copayments," they wrote.
"He opposes stem-cell research and voted against expanding the National Institutes of Health budget and against the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act, showing particular animus toward the cancer Moonshot," they added.
But Glied and Frank argue that Price's replacement ideas would not help people who need it most.
"Price's plan would withdraw almost all the ACA's federal consumer protection regulations, including limits on insurer profits and requirements that plans cover essential health benefits," Glied and Frank said. His plan would eliminate the expansion of Medicaid that states have used to cover many low-income working adults, and replace it with flat tax credits based on age, not on income.
"In sum, Price's replacement proposal would make it much more difficult for low-income Americans to afford health insurance," they wrote. "It would divert federal tax dollars to people who can already buy individual coverage without subsidies and substantially reduce protections for those with preexisting conditions."