WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, released the following statement on the nomination of Congressman Tom Price to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The Secretary of Health and Human Services has broad authority to influence and implement policies that will affect the health and well-being of millions Americans and their families. While President Trump and Republicans continue to fumble through their reckless proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, Congressman Price has shown us time and again how he would tear apart the law, based on legislation he has introduced and budget proposals he designed when he was Chairman of the House Budget Committee. It is clear that he would be leading the charge to deny tens of millions of Americans affordable, quality health coverage. I cannot support this nomination.
“My worries over Congressman Price’s policy positions go well beyond the Affordable Care Act. I was troubled for my constituents by his responses to questions about repealing Medicaid expansion and cutting trillions of dollars from Medicaid by turning it into a block grant program. Repealing Medicaid expansion would put over 260,000 Marylanders at risk who gained vital health insurance coverage under the ACA. Almost 70 percent of Medicaid recipients in Maryland are from communities of color. Cutting money from this important safety net program would put millions of America’s most vulnerable citizens at risk, drawing essential resources away from our minority communities. Furthermore, Republican block grant proposals for Medicaid would significantly limit states’ already tight budgets, and severely restrict their ability to address the nation’s most pressing health challenges such as preventing the next Zika virus epidemic and responding to natural disasters.
“Because he is a medical doctor, I was disappointed in Dr. Price’s answers to questions about the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. In 2009, Congressman Price voted against this legislation that gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the tobacco industry. I cannot fathom why he voted against a bill designed to keep harmful tobacco products out of the hands of children, but he did, and now I am very concerned that he will reduce efforts to enforce the law.
“Congressman Price left me with many unanswered questions. I would still very much like to know how the Administration believes the U.S. can fully participate in combating and responding to infectious disease outbreaks, as well as global health threats like HIV/AIDS now that there are strict limitations on U.S. global health funding to foreign NGOs. This expansion of this ‘global gag rule’ severely impacts the developing world and ignores the millions of women, men, and children who looks to us for help.
“I’d also like to understand whether Congressman Price will ensure Americans have quality insurance coverage that provides for mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and pediatric dental services; how will he deal with the historic discrimination of minority and underserved communities in our healthcare system; and if he supports federal qualified health centers, which provide quality health services to minority communities? For all the answers that I have heard, and the ones that are lacking responses, I cannot support this nomination.”