Testimony on the nomination of Representative Price

Available in [PDF] format.

January 16, 2017

The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Patty Murray Ranking Member
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chair Alexander and Ranking Member Murray,

Advocates for Youth (Advocates) is a national nonprofit organization that partners with youth leaders, adult allies, and youth-serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs that recognize young people’s rights to honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and the resources and opportunities necessary to create health equity for all youth. We write in strong opposition to Representative Tom Price’s nomination to serve as our nation’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is “to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.” Representative Price’s record indicates that he would not serve the stated mission of HHS.

During his 11 years in Congress, Representative Price has consistently championed policies that would undermine the health and well-being of women and young people. He has worked to weaken the same programs that he has been nominated to oversee – programs that tens of millions of people rely on to protect the health of their families. His record should disqualify him for the office of HHS Secretary.

Specifically, we are deeply concerned about the Congressman’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA); his commitment to undermining Medicaid, Medicare and other key parts of our nation’s social safety net; his extreme opposition to abortion care and access to contraception; and his complete disregard for the needs of the LGBTQ community.

The Affordable Care Act has improved the lives of tens of millions of people. It has enabled 6.1 million previously uninsured young people (ages 19 to 25) to gain access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage. Young people need access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services. The ACA has made critical healthcare services more accessible to young people, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, contraceptive care, pregnancy-related care, HPV immunizations, and gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth, among other services. Since young people ages 15 to 24 are more likely to experience unintended pregnancies and STIs than most other age groups, increased access to these services has made a real difference in many young people’s lives. After the implementation of the ACA, young people are significantly more likely to receive a routine examination including preventive care services.

The ACA represents a tremendous step forward for young people’s health. Millions now have the peace of mind of knowing that if they or their family members have a health emergency they will be able to afford care. Fifty-five million women have benefited from the ACA’s coverage of preventive services, including well-woman visits, screening for intimate partner violence, counseling, and breastfeeding support, among others.

If confirmed, Rep. Price would roll back these important gains for women and all young people and thereby strip beneficiaries of important protections concerning access to coverage and care. His record on these issues is clear. Rep. Price has voted over 60 times to repeal the ACA.

Rep. Price has also targeted low-income people by seeking to cut funding for Medicaid and to eviscerate the program through the use of block grants and per capita caps. Millions of young people rely on Medicaid for care throughout their lives – from reproductive and maternal health services to other lifesaving care. Block granting or capping Medicaid would devastatingly undermine the critical role that Medicaid plays in supporting the health and well-being of millions of people in this country.

Finally, Rep. Price’s extreme record on reproductive health care alone should disqualify him for the job. Rep. Price has co-sponsored legislation that would outlaw abortion, stem cell research, forms of contraception, and in vitro fertilization. He has vigorously opposed women’s constitutionally recognized right to abortion care, voting to: deny abortion coverage for women with private health insurance, ban abortion care as early as 20 weeks, and deny low-income women coverage for abortion care.

Rep. Price is a proven opponent of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, no matter the public health impact. He has repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides essential preventive health services like cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing, and HIV testing to 2.5 million people annually—a program that particularly benefits young people and low income people. Defunding Planned Parenthood will have a disproportionate impact on communities that historically face systemic barriers to care and negatively affect the state of sexuality education in this country, as Planned Parenthood Health Centers are the largest provider of sex education in the country.

The Secretary of HHS oversees health care policy, health care research and as well as allocates resources to important agencies like the CDC, FDA, and NIH. The person who takes this role has an important impact on all Americans. Rep. Tom Price would clearly take our health care system backward and is not the right choice for this important position. We urge you to reject this nominee.


Diana Rhodes
Director of Public Policy
Advocates for Youth