President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services is a GOP congressman from Georgia who’s ready to make big changes to public health—and that could affect you.
Rep. Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon who has served in the House of Representatives since 2005, is a member of the Tea Party caucus and has been a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and Planned Parenthood.
If his appointment is confirmed by the Senate, he will be in charge of a $1 trillion budget, which also oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and regulations over the country’s food and drugs.
How would Price’s appointment affect public health (especially for women)? Keep reading for five ways Trump’s nominee to lead HHS could make major waves.
1. The pill might start costing you money
Currently, Obamacare requires insurers to cover birth control without a copay—which has helped millions of women. That won’t be the case with Price, who believes women don’t have issues getting access to birth control. “Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one,” Price has said. “The fact of the matter is this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.” If Price is confirmed as HHS secretary, taking away Obamacare’s birth control provision is likely to be a top priority.
2. Abortions may be criminalized
In a nation where more than half of Americans believe abortion should be safe and legal, Price is one of the most anti-abortion members of Congress. In 11 years, he hasn’t cast a single pro-choice vote. And in 2005, he cosponsored a failed bill that would have defined human life as beginning the moment of conception—an idea that is so far-right that a similar bill was even voted down in uber-conservative Mississippi, since it would arguably make some forms of contraception (IUD, birth control pill, and the morning after pill) tantamount to murder. As HHS secretary, Price will not have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade, of course, but he could use the power of his office to severely limit your reproductive rights.
3. He might defund Planned Parenthood
The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, has recently said: “Tom Price poses a grave threat to women’s health in this country.” Price is against all funding of Planned Parenthood, and—like Trump and his other chosen Cabinet members—wants to have it defunded. What would happen? Poor women would be unable to get access to the most effective forms of birth control, and it’d be a serious blow to women’s reproductive rights.
4. Obamacare will likely be repealed
Trump and GOP leaders (who have a majority in both the House and the Senate) have made their intention to repeal Obamacare clear. And Price has drawn up his own plan to replace it: the Empowering Patients First Act, which would give individuals tax credits that they could use to get their own private insurance—even across state lines. The idea is that it would increase competition and lower prices. But it’s not so seamless. Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina, told The Guardian: “If you repeal [Obamacare] and put one of those replacement plans into law, we’re going to go backwards,” he said. “We’re going to go back to that world where millions of Americans certainly couldn’t afford [insurance].”
5. He’s against gay rights
The day same-sex marriage was made legal nationwide, Price stated that it was “not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances,” the New York Times reports. And in November 2007, he voted against a bill that prohibited discrimination in the workplace against sexual orientation. So we can safely assume he’s not watching Lin-Manuel Miranda’s amazing “Love is love is love…” Tony Awards speech on repeat.
Price’s appointment will have to be confirmed by the Senate, so whichever side you stand on, you voice your opinion to the senators from your state—get their contact info here.
Speaking of women’s health, here’s why you may want to take care of your birth control before Trump’s inauguration. And if you’re sick of seeing a certain President-elect’s face, meet Trumpbuster—the easiest way to avoid any unwanted photos.