Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, should be quickly confirmed for the post. However, Senate Democrats are desperately trying to throw a wrench in the gears of his confirmation process and hope to bring it to a halt. In the history of the department, there may not be another secretary with Price’s stellar combination of medical experience, health-policy expertise, proven leadership, public service in the state legislature and in Congress, and knowledge of the federal budget process. If anyone can cure what ails the American health-care system in a post-Obamacare world, it is the good doctor. And that’s what Democrats are afraid of.
Price is a six-term Georgia congressman representing suburban Atlanta. He serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care and tax matters. After Obamacare was passed, he was the first congressman to put forth a serious, detailed proposal for replacing Obamacare with reforms that empower patients instead of the government. And he has taken the politically courageous step of proposing solutions to ensure the long-term solvency of important programs such as Medicare. He appeared on my radio show, Morning in America, making the case for these alternative plans long before anyone else. He knew that Obamacare would eventually unravel and that there would come a day when Republicans would need to be ready to offer a serious alternative plan.
Until recently, he served as chairman of the House Budget Committee. In that role, he helped forge balanced-budget agreements and demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the budgetary impact of programs and policies at HHS.
The U.S. Congress was not his first foray into public service. Price was elected to the Georgia state senate in 1996. He quickly earned a reputation for being a policy wonk and tireless problem-solver. Recognizing his leadership abilities, his colleagues in the senate chose him to be minority whip. In 2002, they elected him as the first Republican senate majority leader in Georgia history. His peers in the U.S. House of Representatives repeatedly chose him for leadership positions, and he willingly took them on.
Price accepted these roles because he felt he had a duty to make a difference. This sense of duty is what called him to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and enter the medical profession. For more than 20 years, Dr. Price was a practicing orthopedic surgeon. He taught medical residents at one of the largest public hospitals in the country, where he tended to vulnerable, at-risk patients. He witnessed their unique needs and challenges in accessing care and was determined to make the health-care system work better for them. He saved and transformed lives with his surgical skills. We need him to do the same at HHS with his policy and leadership skills.
For Price, health care is personal. It’s about a child who needs corrective surgery to straighten his spine so he can stand tall. It’s about enabling an elderly woman to walk again and regain her independence. Unfortunately, thanks to Obamacare, it’s now about an intrusive government that has forced people off their health plans, away from their physicians, and to the brink of bankruptcy due to skyrocketing premiums.
Price has drawn support throughout the health-care community, from his colleagues in Congress, and from the editorial boards at both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat who worked with him in the state legislature, has praised Price’s intellect and work ethic.
Senate Democrats view this doctor/educator/legislator/leader as a quadruple threat. But to Americans buckling under the burden of unaffordable health-care coverage, he is just the specialist they need. Our health-care system is on life support. Democrats want to pull the plug by blocking the one person who is uniquely qualified to administer a cure. Their shameful partisan ploy is at best malpractice, at worst malfeasance. It needs to stop.
— William J. Bennett served as secretary of education for President Ronald Reagan and is the chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education and a Fox News contributor.