Tom Price is an orthopedic surgeon, former Georgia state senator and current US representative
If confirmed as HHS secretary, Price would be just the third physician ever appointed to this role
Congressman Tom Price is President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services. If confirmed by the Senate, Price would oversee 11 divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health.
The Georgia Republican would be just the third physician ever appointed to this role. Price is an orthopedic surgeon who was first elected to represent Georgia’s sixth district in 2004, after serving four terms in the Georgia State Senate.
One of Obamacare’s most vocal critics from its beginning, Price has introduced legislation to the House of Representatives proposing how he would replace President Obama’s signature piece of legislation.
Price would not just be at the helm of Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He’d also oversee policies and budgets that affect nearly every facet of Americans’ physical and mental health.
Here’s what Tom Price has said on five major health issues facing the country today.
Price is anti-abortion and has voted against funding for Planned Parenthood. After doctored videos of employees discussing fetal body party were published, Price characterized the organization’s practices as “barbaric.” Planned Parenthood has called Price a “grave threat to women’s health.”
“Regardless of where they stand on abortion, most Americans agree it should not be funded by taxpayer subsidies,” Price said in a 2010 statement. “Giving abortion providers (funds) for other activities just frees up an equal sum of money to support their abortion practices.”
“It’s time to end this sickening taxpayer subsidy of abortions,” he said.
Currently federal money is not being used to perform abortions in the US except to save the life of the pregnant woman or in cases of rape or incest, which the federal Medicaid program currently mandates.
Planned Parenthood says it is reimbursed by the federal government (mostly through Medicaid) for specific medical procedures that do not include abortions. But some critics maintain that the money in Planned Parenthood’s budget is “fungible” and can be reallocated.
Planned Parenthood says only about 3% of the services it provides are abortions. STD screening and treatment accounts for about 45% of services provided; contraception accounts for about 31%; cancer screening and prevention accounts for 7%; and other health services, such as pregnancy tests or prenatal services, account for 13%, according to the organization’s 2014-2015 annual report.
After former Vice President Joe Biden announced in June an ambitious, $1 billion “moonshot” agenda to reduce cancer deaths, currently the second leading killer of Americans.
“We’re all in favor of increasing funding for cancer research,” Price told STAT News last year. “The problem that the (Obama) administration has is that they always want to add funding on, they never want to decrease funding somewhere else. That’s what needs to happen.”
Mental health and guns
Last year, Price told Georgia’s Marietta Daily Journal newspaper that the country’s mental health system needed to get better at diagnosing and treating at-risk individuals in order to stem violent crimes.
“To do otherwise would mean we continue to fail not only those afflicted with mental illness, but also their families, our communities and our nation,” Price said.
Price asserted that when violence has taken place, gun ownership has protected – not harmed – those at the scene of the crime.
“In fact, guns are used more often to protect lives, not take lives. Steps to remove firearms from the hands of law-abiding citizens endanger those very citizens,” he said.
A 2014 meta-analysis, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that access to firearms is associated with increased risk for suicide and being the victim of homicide. There is currently no independent evidence showing that gun ownership is associated with a decreased risk of gun-related deaths.
Some experts think that the CDC has done little research on gun violence because doing so may encourage legislators aligned with the National Rifle Association to take away funding from the agency.
Stem cell research
Price has been outspoken against research that involves embryonic stem cells.
In 2005, Price spoke with Georgia’s Athens Banner-Herald newspaper about the “ethical dilemma” of stem cell research. Embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to treat myriad medical conditions, are controversial because they derive from early embryos.
The cells are of interest for research because they have the potential to develop into many different cell types, and so scientists believe they can be used to generate cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies.
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“There are people who believe any form of embryonic stem cell research necessitates the destruction of human life,” Price said. “I can’t overestimate the importance of that statement.” And for people who believe that, “stem cell scientists are threatening your fundamental principles,” he said.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s current guidelines on human stem cell research, embryonic stem cells are eligible for research with NIH funding if they were created using in vitro fertilization and are no longer needed or were donated by individuals seeking reproductive treatment.
Price has voted against expanding embryonic stem cell research. As HHS secretary he would oversee NIH grants to research on embryonic stem cells.
More on Price
Thomas Edmunds Price was born in Lansing, Michigan, in 1954, and grew up in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit. Price earned his bachelor’s and medical degree at the University of Michigan.
In 1997, Price was sworn in Georgia State Senate. Then, after serving four terms in the Senate and nearly 20 years in private practice, Price was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2004. He represents Georgia’s sixth congressional district.
CNN’s Lisa Rose contributed to this story.