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CT lawmakers speak out against Trump’s choice for Health and Human Services head


U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman have issued statements decrying the announcement that U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Connecticut senator, who is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, used the strongest language, declaring: “I will not support Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Tom Price was the face and voice of the Republicans’ effort to privatize Medicare and repeal health coverage for 20 million Americans.

“I will not be any part of the Republicans’ plan to drastically cut benefits to seniors by turning their Medicare benefit into a voucher,” he continued. “And I will not support a nominee who has made it clear he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with absolutely nothing.

“The nomination vote on Tom Price is the first test of whether Congress is prepared to stand up to the Republicans’ clear desire to end Medicare as we know it and steal health care insurance from millions of Americans,” Murphy concluded. “This will be one of the biggest fights that Congress will have with the new administration, and it starts with this nomination.”

Malloy and Wyman – who, like Murphy, are Democrats – echoed the senator’s sentiments, with the governor calling the choice of Price “extremely troubling, to say the least” and remarking that the Georgian “has been one of the staunchest adversaries since (the Affordable Care Act’s) passage.

“Representative Price’s record demonstrates a clear intention to dismantle the very health care reform law that has benefited hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut and millions across the nation,” Malloy continued. “Further, his outspoken views against reproductive justice and his efforts to block federal funds to Planned Parenthood are of great concern and threaten to turn back the clock on decades of progress in women’s health care – especially access to preventive care and birth control currently guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.”

“Congressman Price has made his opposition to the Affordable Care Act clear,” said Wyman, who also serves as chair of board of the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. “I stand with Democrats and Republicans from across the nation who supported the expansion of Medicaid coverage and the reform of Medicare, increased equity in health care outcomes and improved access to care.”

Wyman added that the ACA, or Obamacare, “has insured hundreds of thousands and reduced our uninsured rate to below 4 percent, among the lowest in the nation. We must continue the gains that have been made for millions of residents and our nation’s economy.”

Access Health enrolls more than 100,000 residents in private qualified health plans, while the state’s Medicaid program enrolls over 750,000, including 205,000 in expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

“(House Budget Committee) Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on health care policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity,” Trump said in a statement. “He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American.”

Last week, Price said he expected any Republican plan to replace Obamacare would a “significant resemblance” to a 2015 measure that was vetoed by the president. That bill would have removed some of the ACA’s main features, including Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help middle-class Americans buy private policies, tax penalties for individuals who refused to get coverage and several taxes to support coverage expansion. It also would have delayed implementation for two years.

Since winning the election, Trump has said that he expects to keep the law’s provisions that allow children of up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ plan, and that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Blumenthal took an even wider view of the nomination in his remarks.

“Although Representative Price may be best known for his misguided attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, equally important is his agenda to prevent millions of American women from accessing safe, affordable and basic health care services,” the senator said. “Representative Price has championed the anti-choice movement, leading the charge to defund Planned Parenthood and disregarding the women who would be ruthlessly and recklessly deprived of basic health care screenings, family planning and contraception.

“Representative Price’s extremist positions are out of touch with the vast majority of American women and their families,” Blumenthal concluded. “He even voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. I am deeply concerned about his fitness to lead one of our most crucial domestic federal agencies, and will oppose his nomination.”

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