Tom Price Confirmed Secretary of HHS
Early Friday, Feb. 10, Dr. Tom Price was confirmed by the Senate in a 52 to 47 vote as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Representative from Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, moved into politics when he first ran for the Georgia State Senate in 1996 and then moved on to Congress in 2004.
“The role of the Department in improving lives means it must carry out its responsibilities with compassion. It also must be efficient, effective, and accountable, as well as willing to partner with those already doing remarkable work,” said Price during his confirmation. “The commitment extends to what I call the six principles of health care: affordability, accessibility, quality, responsiveness, innovation, and choices.”
To achieve these principles Price hopes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Price also wants to see changes in Medicare. During his time as Secretary, Price said he will support policies that move towards voucher programs, which are fixed checks from the government for each beneficiary- an idea that president Trump does not support. These programs are meant to help stop or cut federal spending. Price believes this would allow competition between private and government programs.
Price has also stated his desire to rein in Medicaid. Of the 532 billion dollar Medicaid program in 2015, 62 percent is funded by the federal government. In his new role, Price hopes to shift more of this Medicaid funding to states by using “block grants”, a policy he has supported throughout his time in Congress. If passed a block grant would be a predetermined and fixed amount of money given to states from the federal government in order to provide health care to people on Medicaid who are also low-income. This would place a cap on the federal funding of Medicaid in order to save money at the national level. In the 2016 report, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that in the next decade it would cut Medicaid spending by a third. Opponents have said block grant funding would force states to cut benefits due to lack of funds.
However, while campaigning, President Trump said he would not cut Medicaid. Trump supports the block grants and believes it will give states more flexibility to manage their own Medicaid programs.