NBJC Opposes Rep. Tom Price to Lead the Department of Health and Human Services
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, opposes President-elect Trump’s nomination of U.S. Representative Tom Price of Georgia to be the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The mission of HHS is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. Because of Rep. Price’s vast record of supporting public policies that would devastate the most marginalized in our society, like repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, and defunding the important health and wellness work of organizations like Planned Parenthood, NBJC strongly opposes his nomination to be the next Secretary of HHS.
“HHS is one the most indispensable federal agencies of our government as it provides life-saving programs that support millions of Americans, including programs that specifically empower women, LGBTQ people, the elderly, people living with HIV/AIDS, and low-income families,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. “Representative Price has a long and oppressive record of supporting legislation and policies that would severely erode the integrity of many of these programs. From his alarming comments in 2012 that he has never met a woman that could not afford birth control to his fervent support of anti-LGBTQ policies, Representative Price would be a disaster for our nation if he were confirmed to lead HHS.”
HHS is comprised of eleven major operating divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Administration for Children and Families, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The Department works with nearly one-fourth of all federal government expenditures and administers more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined. The HHS Secretary is responsible for administering all of its divisions and advising the president on matters of health, welfare, and income security programs under the federal government.
Rep. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, has been the chief opponent in Congress to the ACA by sponsoring several pieces of legislation that would dismantle the provisions of the law. Specifically, as a federal legislator, he proposed measures that would replace the ACA with a plan that primarily benefits patients who have high incomes, which leaves people with pre-existing conditions behind and makes it nearly impossible for people to purchase health plans that include abortion coverage. In addition, his legislative record includes detrimental votes that would harm LGBTQ people, including supporting constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and voting against a bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBTQ employees. His proposed pieces of legislation to “replace and repeal” the ACA do not include non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, which is included under the current health care law.
“As a person living with HIV, the potential repeal of the ACA and the broad protections for my community included in the law is especially troublesome,” said Venton Jones, NBJC Program Officer for LGBT Health & Wellness Initiatives. “The thought of being denied basic health insurance coverage due to my status is not only bad policy, but dangerous for those of us who need the life-saving care that antiretroviral treatment provides in order to keep the virus from spreading and under control. We must reject any proposal or nominee to lead HHS that would dismantle the system that has provided essential health care to millions in our nation.”
The Secretary of HHS will have major influence over the continued implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which includes funding for vital research, education, and treatment to combat HIV/AIDS. More importantly, Rep. Price is a member of the radical Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. This fringe medical group holds extreme views about the state of medicine, including questioning whether HIV causes AIDS.
Lettman-Hicks added, “Both Rep. Price’s public service record and controversial statements about women and other marginalized groups in our country make him unfit to be the next leader of HHS. He is currently facing calls for an ethics investigation for possible insider trading deals while serving in Congress. This and so many other problems with his nomination have motivated NBJC and so many others in the civil rights community to oppose his nomination. We request that the Senate reject this nomination for Secretary of HHS.”
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