Health care providers divided over Trump’s new Secretary for Health and Human Services

     Health providers in the region have various reactions to the confirmation of Dr. Tom Price, a former congressman, as Health and Human Services secretary. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

    Health providers in the region have various reactions to the confirmation of Dr. Tom Price, a former congressman, as Health and Human Services secretary. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

    Earlier this month, physician and Georgia Congressman Tom Price was confirmed as Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s not sitting too well with some in the region.

    Antoinette Kraus, who leads Pennsylvania Health Access Network, is concerned about what Price’s Senate confirmation means for Medicaid and changes to the Affordable Care Act. 

    But she said her organization has not altered its outreach strategy.

    “We’re going to continue to encourage folks to enroll in these programs and get the health insurance coverage they need,” Kraus said.

    Nurit Shein, CEO of Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center, is also worried about Price being the country’s top health-care official. Shein’s organization offers health services even to patients who are uninsured or cannot afford to pay.

    “I will say that since the Affordable Care Act, we have seen the numbers of uninsured in our community go down, and the ‘free’ care that we have to give people, has diminished,” she said.

    In particular, she has concerns about what will happen to an uninsured patient who needs speciality care ― the Mazzoni Center focuses mostly on primary care for the LGBT community.

    Others, however, are heartened by Price’s confirmation. 

    “Because I believe, as a physician, he understands the difficulties we have been facing in delivering top quality medical care,” said Alieta Eck, a physician in New Jersey who runs a non-government free clinic.

    She said those difficulties include too much government involvement between doctors and patients and what she sees as burdensome reporting requirements.

    Meanwhile, Republican leaders are still discussing how they would like to replace the Affordable Care Act, which President Trump has vowed to eliminate. 

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