Late Monday night the news broke that Donald Trump was nominating Republican six-term Georgia Congressman Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Like most in Congress his is not a household name and most Americans wouldn’t recognize him if they passed him on the street. This pick is similar to the choice of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and both are equally harmful to America!
HHS is primarily charged with overseeing the federal effort to serve the health and many social safety net needs of America. Price does have the letters MD after his name but that is where his suitability for the job ends.
The greatest achievement of my lifetime in providing access to health care for Americans is Obamacare. To date it has given approximately 20 million Americans access to medical care that otherwise wouldn’t have it. By a quick calculation that is over 6% of the population. Price’s claim to fame in Congress is that he has been the lead opponent of the effort to repeal Obamacare in the sixty odd unsuccessful attempts to date.
Prior to Obamacare, Medicare was the greatest piece of health care legislation in my lifetime. It was part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program and along with Social Security insured retirement with at least minimal dignity for America’s senior citizens. Like any large program it has some flaws but overall it functions very well and achieves its goal. Price wants to privatize it via a voucher system.
His privatization plan is neither new nor unique. Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush both advocated privatization plans during their presidencies. Bush pushed his a bit harder, while Clinton’s effort didn’t go much beyond inclusion in a State of the Union address. Fortunately neither attempt met with success.
Many disaffected workers voted for Trump because they feel left behind. Many of them are currently relying on Obamacare for their family’s health care. What Congress should be doing is improving Obamacare, not repealing it! The oft used phrase is “Repeal and replace” reminds me of the segregationist phrase “Separate but equal”. They did a good job on the separate part; not so good on the equal part. You can complete my thought.
I will be 65 this summer and am looking forward to enrolling in Medicare. It is not a health care panacea and like Obamacare could use some honest adjustments; but it along with my Social Security will allow me a dignified retirement versus being cast aside as just a useless old man.
In addition to the pattern I keep discussing of the incoming administration resembling an organized criminal enterprise always looking for a way to divert tax dollars to themselves or their financiers we are now seeing a pattern of appointing people to head agencies that they detest the mission of. Betsy DeVos is anti-public education and Tom Price is anti-public health care.
A sizable American minority elected Donald Trump and it appears we are all being called upon to pay the price for that action.
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