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Tom Price was confirmed as Health and Human Services Secretary after 2am on Friday. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

With Tom Price Confirmed, Clock Is Ticking for Critical Safety-Net Programs

Price's confirmation decried as 'a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans'

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Putting the nation's safety net programs at risk, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tom Price as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary early Friday morning.

Price, who had represented Georgia in the House of Representatives since 2005, is known as an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. During his confirmation hearing in January, Price refused to say whether he would honor President Donald Trump's campaign trail promises not to cut Medicare and Medicaid spending. He has also led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and faced questions about his stock trading during a contentious confirmation process.

"The healthcare uprising is just beginning."
—LeeAnn Hall, People's Action

Friday's post-2:00am vote was 52-47 along party lines (roll call here), with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) not voting because her husband was having heart surgery.

Physicians for a National Health Program (PHNP) called Price's confirmation "a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans."

"Price's vision for reforming U.S. health care would result in millions of Americans losing their existing health insurance coverage, and millions more having to make do with bare-bones policies that offer little to no meaningful protection," said PNHP president Carol Paris. "He can also be expected to push high-deductible health plans, which already result in millions of people forgoing needed care, and to undermine Medicare, the Medicaid program, and safety-net hospitals."

ABC News provided a run-down of "what's next for Obamacare" with Price at the HHS helm.

Others pointed to Price's dismal record on women's health access, vowing to hold him accountable if he chips away further at reproductive or healthcare rights. 

"Throughout his career, Rep. Price has gleefully advanced his own political ideology and self-interest at the expense of sound healthcare policy," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Now he is poised to take that same dangerous agenda to the Department of Health and Human Services. This continues a theme of the Trump administration: promoting leaders who are unfit for the task at hand and who openly disdain the core mission of the government they propose to lead."

Still, PNHP's Paris added: "If Price's policies come to pass, the free-market ideologues who supported them will no longer be able to hide behind false promises like 'universal access.' The results will be laid bare for everyone to see, and elected officials will have to answer to the poor, working-class, elderly, and chronically ill Americans who will suffer needlessly as a result."

Indeed, said LeeAnn Hall, co-director of grassroots group People's Action, "the health care uprising is just beginning."

"We won't tolerate more corporate profiteering while people struggle to get the treatment and medications they need," Hall said. "We won't tolerate people being told they don't deserve health care because they're not rich enough, they're not the right gender, they weren't born in the right place, or they have a preexisting condition. We believe in a United States that cares for everyone, where people matter more than corporations and insiders lining their pockets."

People were tweeting about Price's confirmation under the hashtag #PriceIsWrong:

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