AFT leaders criticize nomination of Price to head HHS

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The nomination of U.S. Rep. Tom Price to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poses a huge threat to vital programs such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid.

"During the campaign, Mr. Trump promised seniors that he was a different type of Republican—that he understood the importance of Medicare and would not touch it," AFT President Randi Weingarten says. "This nomination of Tom Price makes that promise a nullity; it would appear from this and other nominations that raiding public funds for private profit is a more animating principle to the president-elect than Americans' healthcare and well-being.

"Tom Price would turn programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, relied on by millions, into vouchers and private accounts, while gutting protections for LGBTQ people, women and the most vulnerable Americans.

"And as to Obamacare, despite glitches and setbacks, the nation has made years of hard-won, steady strides toward insuring millions. AFT clinicians on the frontlines of healthcare have seen firsthand how the Affordable Care Act has saved lives. Putting the Department of Health and Human Services under the control of an opponent of not only Obamacare, but also of the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicare and Medicaid as we know them, threatens to undo that progress and then some—making Americans of every generation more vulnerable, and putting the health of millions at risk."

Says National Federation of Nurses President Stephen Rooney, who is an AFT vice president: "Rep. Price's nomination tells us more about the Trump administration's plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare—the president-elect's post-election statement notwithstanding. Personnel are policy. Rep. Price supports policies that would increase healthcare costs for middle-class workers who are not covered by their employers, while insurers and Big Pharma reap higher profits.

"Rep. Price's policies will reduce access to healthcare and the quality of care while increasing costs, moving us in the opposite direction of improving the healthcare system. Price has introduced legislation that would limit nurse practitioners' scope of practice. NPs provide much-needed access to high-quality care at an affordable cost."

AFT Vice President Ann Twomey, who is president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, says, "As the next secretary of health and human services, Rep. Price must put aside partisan politics to protect the healthcare of all Americans. Dismantling the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, and privatizing Medicare, will result in the opposite: It will throw many Americans into economic uncertainty when they are sick and in need of healthcare, while lining the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

"Healthcare workers on the frontlines will continue to provide care for their patients—but we must be reassured that our hospitals and our patients will not be jeopardized under this administration."

Says Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals President and AFT Vice President Candice Owley: "The president-elect's announcement to nominate Tom Price is extremely concerning to nurses and healthcare professionals across the country. We've witnessed the direct attacks that women's health service providers have undergone over the years—attacks that Tom Price has helped lead—and know that dismantling these essential services would increase health disparities not only among women, but also among children and families. Coupled with his proposals for block grant funding for Medicaid, privatizing Medicare and curtailing protections for pre-existing conditions protections, the Trump administration's policies might put the health of working families and the majority of Americans in danger."