Price is Wrong: Why New HHS Secretary is Clear Threat to Low-Income, Vulnerable People

Washington, D.C.—Representative Tom Price, who was confirmed last night as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Service (HHS) by a narrow party line vote of 52-47, poses grave danger to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable low-income children, families, and individuals. The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for overseeing a broad range of programs of critical importance, including Medicaid, Medicare, the federal Health Marketplace, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child care, early childhood development, foster care and child welfare, adoption, child support enforcement, and refugee resettlement. Secretary Price is wrong for this key role for many reasons, particularly because of his legislative record of proposals that would threaten millions of people’s access to health care.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Price championed Medicaid proposals, like block grants and per capita caps, that would undermine the promise of comprehensive coverage for all eligible individuals and would force states to choose between vulnerable populations. Our country’s track record with the TANF program demonstrates that block grants will cut services and programs to those people when they need them most, while also threatening state budgets. Secretary Price also supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which jeopardizes the medical care of an estimated 30 million people. Additionally, he has called for vouchers in place of today’s Medicare program.

President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration and refugees have upended the lives of millions of people, many of whom are vulnerable women and children. The HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement plays a key role in welcoming and integrating refugees after they undergo an extensive vetting process. Secretary Price was asked questions during the confirmation process about refugees, including his own experience with refugee resettlement and his views about President Trump’s controversial January 27 executive order that is now being held up after two federal court rulings. He never responded to any of those questions.

CLASP will work to hold Secretary Price accountable for responding to the needs of people who are supported by the critical programs of HHS. Within weeks, the Senate will be charged with considering senior-level HHS appointees who will be directly managing the department’s core functions. We demand that the Senate critically examine these nominees to ensure they are appropriately knowledgeable about and committed to the programs upon which millions of Americans rely for support as they seek healthy, economically secure lives.

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CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for low-income people. With nearly 50 years of trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and a commitment to practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all, CLASP lifts up the voices of poor and low-income children, families, and individuals, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. The organization’s solutions directly address the barriers that individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status, in addition to low income. For more information, visit and follow @CLASP_DC.