On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I urge you to vote against the confirmation of Rep. Tom Price to be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). His ethical issues and extreme views show that he is not qualified to be the guardian of Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and numerous health and social service agencies that are important to working people and retirees.
We agree with the senators who have asked that this nomination not be rushed to a vote without allowing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission the opportunity to investigate the nominee’s stock market trading activities that potentially violate the STOCK Act and insider trading laws. The questionable stock purchases uncovered by the Wall Street Journal suggest that Rep. Price is willing to put his own financial interests ahead of his duty to avoid conflicts of interest as a public office holder. Other news accounts show that on more than one occasion, he worked to advance policies that would benefit certain health care corporations over the interests of Medicare beneficiaries—after he made investments in these companies. Our nation deserves a Secretary with a clear commitment to serving the public, and Rep. Price’s record is not one that inspires confidence.
The Secretary of HHS also serves as a trustee of Social Security and Medicare. Over his career in Congress, Rep. Price’s views about these programs were consistently outside the mainstream. His record reflects longstanding opposition to Medicare. As chair of the House Budget Committee, he introduced legislation to end the Medicare guarantee and replace it with a limited voucher. Speaking of the program generally, he made the astonishing statement that, “Nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government’s intrusion into medicine through Medicare.” Regarding Social Security, he said that he would like to “normalize the discussion and debate” about eliminating Social Security as we know it by privatizing the program.
Rep. Price also has been dismissive of government having a role in reducing the prices of pharmaceutical drugs, and he has been a vocal proponent of sharp reductions in Medicaid. In November, he put forward a proposal to overhaul the federal budget process, creating new ground rules that would encourage substantial roll backs in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid while tilting the process in favor of tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
In short, these extreme views about essential programs, coupled with troubling questions about Rep. Price’s conflicts of interest, compel us to ask that you oppose his nomination as HHS Secretary.
William Samuel, Director
Government Affairs Department