Crash & burn: Trump’s health secretary is out

The Trump administration’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in America have gone nowhere and the GOP’s failure to “repeal and replace ObamaCare” is a betrayal of a promise that was central to the presidential race and congressional Republican campaigns since 2010, but it took a travel scandal to shake up the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department.

HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., resigned a day after issuing a statement that said, “I continue to welcome and am cooperating fully with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) review of processes and procedures related to my official travel.”

“I have spent forty years both as a doctor and in public service putting people first,” said Price, who left a safe seat in Congress to join the cabinet. “It has been my personal honor to serve the American people, and I look forward to continuing that service.”

A day later, he used similar language to say farewell.

“I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first,” Price said in his resignation letter. “I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives.”

Price was the first of President Donald Trump’s embattled cabinet secretaries to resign amid sharp criticism of his extensive use of private planes for travel.

Price’s resignation creates a big leadership void at the top of the department tasked with administering the Affordable Care Act, a health law known as Obamacare, which Republicans hate.

Trump accepted Price’s resignation Friday on the heels of reports detailing how his travel on military and charter jet flights had cost taxpayers more than $1 million since May.

Price will be replaced in an acting capacity by Dr. Don Wright, who served as assistant secretary for health since February. He’s held a number of positions since joining the agency in 2007, including deputy assistant secretary for health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Congressional Republicans won’t be voting to repeal ObamaCare again in the near future because the parliamentary maneuver they were using to repeal President Obama’s signature health law without any Democratic support expires Saturday.

The White House appears to be sabotaging Obamacare by shortening by half the open enrollment window, which begins Nov. 1, slashing advertising funding by 90 percent and cutting funding by 41 percent for navigator groups, or grass-roots organization that help consumers get insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Navigator groups perform a range of services during the annual enrollment season, such as helping citizens learn which health insurance exchanges would best suit them, walking consumers through the sign-up process and conducting general outreach to inform people how to obtain coverage.

After failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Trump and congressional Republicans leaders are attempting to sabotage the law,” said health care advocate Lisa McCormick. “The Trump administration is actively creating chaos and making it harder for Americans to get covered. That’s not only wrong, but it will destabilize the market, lead to higher costs for everyone and increase the number of people who suffer or die because they cannot afford medical treatment.”

McCormick said Democrats should insist that Congress vote on the Medicare for All proposal.

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