Heinrich Opposes Confirmation Of Tom Price For Secretary Of Health And Human Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) issued the following statement opposing the confirmation of Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.), President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary:

“Congressman Tom Price’s dubious ethics and deliberate plans to dismantle our nation’s health care system and gut Medicare and Medicaid would put the health and livelihoods of New Mexicans in jeopardy. Our state faces significant health challenges, including access to care in rural and tribal communities, limited mental health services, and an opioid addiction epidemic.

“Congressman Price will be the architect of the Trump White House and Congressional Republicans’ reckless effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In New Mexico, the ACA has led to a dramatic increase in the number of insured and provided hundreds of thousands of people with critical, and in some cases, lifesaving care. Because of the law, the health care sector has been our strongest area of job growth for the last five years. Many of these jobs are in the rural communities where we need them most. Throwing all of that away will have a very real cost for families in our state.

“Congressman Price has also been the leading proponent of policies that would greatly harm seniors who rely on Medicare. He has proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 or higher and creating a voucher program to privatize Medicare. Under Congressman Price’s plan, our nation’s decades-long guarantee of full coverage to seniors would disappear and fixed-income seniors would have to foot the bill for higher medical costs.

“In addition, Congressman Price wants to convert Medicaid—our nation’s safety net health care program for millions of families and children—into a block grant. This would result in a significant cost-shift to states and ultimately lead to major cuts to Medicaid. In New Mexico, we have already seen budgetary shortfalls addressed through cuts to the State’s Medicaid program. Block granting would force our state and our health care providers into even worse fiscal shape.

“A similar move to block grant the federal community mental health program in the 1980’s reduced oversight and led to dramatic funding cuts to behavioral health services. This led to disasters like New Mexico’s politically-driven behavioral health shakeup four years ago. Our state’s behavioral health system is still struggling to recover and New Mexicans who need mental health services are left without the care they desperately need. We will see similar crises repeated and amplified throughout our health delivery system if we change Medicaid into a block grant program and slash federal funding for the vital services hundreds of thousands of New Mexico families and children depend upon.

“I cannot support a nominee to oversee our health and safety net programs who is so intent on dismantling those very programs.”