Congressional Tri-Caucus Leaders Oppose Rep. Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services

Jan 17, 2017 Issues: Healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today, the Congressional Tri-Caucus – which is composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), urging them to oppose the nomination of Rep. Tom Price to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“Throughout his career in Congress, Rep. Price’s words and actions have not aligned with the health priorities of minority communities. He has consistently supported changes to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid that will have devastating impacts on the communities that we represent,” the Members wrote.

The letter discussed Rep. Price’s strong opposition to the Affordable Care Act, a critical piece of legislation that has allowed millions of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to gain access to quality, affordable health care. The Members also highlighted Rep. Price’s proposals to make drastic changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would disproportionately hurt communities of color.

“In addition to supporting efforts to repeal the ACA, Rep. Price has also proposed drastic changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would result in significant  losses in health coverage and benefits,” the Members wrote.  “He has called for transforming Medicare into a premium support program that gives seniors a set amount of money to purchase a plan.  Rep. Price is also a vocal proponent of changing Medicaid into a block grant program and has repeatedly voted against expanding Medicaid coverage to children.  The burden of these changes will fall disproportionately on minority communities.”   

--

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Chairmen Hatch and Alexander, and Ranking Members Wyden and Murray:

            As the Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – we write to express our deep concerns about the nomination and potential confirmation of Representative Tom Price, M.D., as the 23rd United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Throughout his career in Congress, Rep. Price’s words and actions have not aligned with the health priorities of minority communities. He has consistently supported changes to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid that will have devastating impacts on the communities that we represent.

            Rep. Price has been among the most ardent advocates of repealing the Affordable Care Act.  This troubles us because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has enabled millions within our communities to access quality, affordable health care.  Thanks to the ACA, 2.8 million African-Americans, 5.1 million Latinos, and 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have gained health insurance under the law.  In addition, 7.8 million African-Americans, 8.8 million Latinos, and 2.7 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now have access to new preventative services such as immunizations, mammograms, and screenings for hepatitis and HIV.  Simply put, repealing the ACA would represent a significant setback for minority communities’ access to health coverage.

            Unlike many whom have called for a repeal of the ACA, Rep. Price has introduced a detailed plan, the Empowering Patients First Act, to replace the law. Unfortunately, his plan is unacceptable for minority communities.  It does not increase access to care or acknowledge the social determinants of health.  Rather than help our communities, Rep. Price’s plan would allow discrimination against older and sicker patients.  It would also fully repeal Medicaid expansion, undermine affordability protections, erode employer coverage, and eliminate essential health benefits.  Taken together, these proposed changes to our health care system amount to a rejection of the science of health disparities, and would eliminate programs and policies intended to address these disparities.  For instance, African Americans are 60 percent more likely to die from heart disease , Latinos are 65 percent more likely to be diabetic , and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are 80 percent more likely to die from liver cancer.  Without the ACA, millions in our communities are at risk of losing the health care coverage that helps them manage these health conditions.

            In addition to supporting efforts to repeal the ACA, Rep. Price has also proposed drastic changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would result in significant  losses in health coverage and benefits.  He has called for transforming Medicare into a premium support program that gives seniors a set amount of money to purchase a plan.  Rep. Price is also a vocal proponent of changing Medicaid into a block grant program and has repeatedly voted against expanding Medicaid coverage to children .   The burden of these changes will fall disproportionately on minority communities.  African-Americans make up 19 percent of Medicaid enrollees, and Latinos make up 31 percent.  Medicaid also provides health coverage for 11 percent of Asian Americans and 14 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.  Because the median income of Medicare enrollees from minority communities is much lower than their Caucasian counterparts, moving the burden of costs to seniors will put significant strain on minority families.

            As Rep. Price moves through the confirmation process, we request that you keep in mind the devastating impact that the policies he has supported will have on our communities and urge you to oppose his nomination.

Sincerely,

CEDRIC RICHMOND
Member of Congress
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus

MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM
Member of Congress
Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus

JUDY CHU
Member of Congress
Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

###

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.