Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women
December 27, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Trump’s choices for his cabinet include enemies of public education, housing and the environment to head departments dealing with those issues. Now, for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Trump has picked Tom Price, a ghoul who aims to gut healthcare, especially for the poor, and ban abortion.
Tom Price is a surgeon, a congressman from Georgia, and a member of the fascist Tea Party caucus. Price has been a prominent part of repeated efforts in the Congress to push through bills that would undermine or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law. A statement by a group of doctors, signed by thousands of physicians, said that Price’s policies attacking public healthcare “threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare.” (See “Thousands of Doctors Speak Out Against Trump’s Pick to Head Health and Human Services” at our “Voices of Conscience and Resistance in the Time of Trump-Pence” page.)
The reality is that ACA (or “Obamacare”) is not a real solution to the glaring situation where tens of millions of people can’t afford healthcare, with thousands dying needlessly, in a country that has a technologically advanced—and very profitable—healthcare “industry.” In the face of growing outrage among the people over this, sections of the ruling class felt it necessary to contain healthcare costs and expand insurance coverage to some extent. The ACA was a capitalist plan to maintain the profitability of capitalists who have major stakes in healthcare while taking into account the interests of other capitalists, and to make some concessions in order to tamp down a source of political outrage against the system. But from the start, the ACA been the target of Price and other Republicans who promote the view that the government has no responsibility for anything having to do with the well-being and welfare of the people—and that any attempt to soften the predatory impact of the capitalist “market” on people does harm to the interests of their capitalist system. (For more on the conflicts around ACA, in the context of the sharp struggle within the ruling class, see “The Shutdown, the Showdown and the Urgent Need to Repolarize… For Revolution”—including the sidebar on what health and medicine in a revolutionary socialist society would be like.)
The National Nurses United, the largest union of RNs in the U.S., said in a letter calling on the Senate to reject Price: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live. While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience.”
As the statement by the doctors also points out, Price wants to “reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care” and to “privatize” Medicare, which would mean serious reductions “for [a] critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.” He’s advocated other measures aimed at cutting spending on public health (such as funding for combatting AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis), and reducing regulations to promote more unfettered profit-making (such as opposing further regulations on tobacco use).
Price has repeatedly targeted abortion in Congress—and he now joins Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and other Christian fascists in Trump’s cabal who seriously aim to not just restrict but outright ban the right to abortion. In 2005 and 2007 Price, along with Pence and others in Congress, co-sponsored the so-called “Right to Life” Act, a profoundly reactionary—and totally unscientific—attempt to define human life as beginning at the moment of the fertilization of the egg. If this actually became law, it would effectively ban abortions—and treat abortion providers and women who try to have abortions as “criminals.”
But that’s not all. Defining a fertilized egg as a “human”—as Price, Pence and other Christian fascists want to do—would criminalize many forms of birth control, such as IUDs, the morning-after pill, and hormonal birth control pills. Price has also been heavily involved in the efforts by Republicans in the Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, which is a major provider of birth control, especially for poor people. This attack on birth control makes it clear that what the Christian fascists are about is not “preserving life” or “protecting women’s health” but strengthening the chains of blatant patriarchal control on women through forcing them to bear children against their will.
Tom Price—an enemy of healthcare for millions of people and women’s access to abortion and birth control—is yet another urgent reason that the fascist Trump-Pence regime must be prevented from coming to power.
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