Why Trump's new health secretary Tom Price is actually one of his most controversial picks so far
Tom Price, Donald Trump’s choice for health secretary, is the latest of a handful of Cabinet nominees to narrowly be confirmed by a bitterly divided Senate.
Here’s everything you need to know about the man who will play a pivotal role in Trump’s administration.
What’s his background?
Price is from Michigan, and trained as an orthopaedic surgeon.
He was elected to represent Georgia’s 6th district in 2004 and served four terms in the Georgia State Senate.
How do Republicans see Price?
As a knowledgeable leader who will help undo all Obama’s work on healthcare.
Republican John Cornyn said the Democrats’ “obstruction” of Cabinet nominees was a rejection of Trump’s victory in the election and threatened “the stability of the government and that peaceful transition of power” from Obama.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Price “knows more about healthcare policy than just about anyone”. He said Price would help “bring stability to healthcare markets that Obamacare has harmed”.
And what do the Democrats think?
The opposite, perhaps unsurprisingly. Following Price’s confirmation, Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “The Republicans launch their first assault in their war on seniors.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen said: “He seems to have no higher priority than to terminate health coverage for millions of people.”
She said his preference for limiting women’s access to free birth control was “not only wrong, it’s arrogant”.
How did the confirmation go down?
With some difficulty. Price was only confirmed earlier today on a 52-47 margin, which is pretty slim.
Democrats prolonged the debate on the 62-year-old Price until nearly 2am EST Friday, in arguments tinged with bitter accusations.
What can we expect from Price?
Price has proposed repealing Obama’s health law and replacing it with tax credits, health savings accounts and high-risk pools for sick, costly consumers. Democrats say those ideas are inadequate and would leave people unprotected against significant health expenses.
Price has supported ending federal payments to Planned Parenthood, and reducing Medicaid and giving states more power to shape the healthcare programme for the poor. He would reshape Medicare’s guaranteed health coverage for the elderly into a programme offering subsidies for people to buy policies.
Why is he such a controversial choice?
Price holds many divisive opinions: he is anti-abortion and anti-gay rights. He’s also a controversial figure amongst doctors: He has previously voted against federal funding for syringe exchange programmes, which are proven to reduce HIV infection rates.
He’s also been criticised by the Democrats who have accused him of lying about his acquisition of discounted shares of an Australian biotech company and benefiting from insider information. They’ve also claimed he pushed legislation to help a medical implant maker whose stock he’d purchased.
Price has said he’s done nothing wrong. It’s illegal for members of Congress to engage in insider trading.