How To Stop Tom Price From Becoming Health and Human Services Secretary With Your Phone and Your Friends

feature image via CNN Money.

Alrighty queermos and allies who value healthcare, we’ve got another one for you! You may have seen our plan to call senators on the HELP committee about Betsy DeVos. We’re really proud of it! We feel like a lot of people are just as outraged as we (Carrie and Ali) are. Probably you are outraged by Tom Price as well. Lord knows we are! Why you ask? Well, as with before, we’re going to put the urgent action at the top so you don’t have to read any further if you don’t want to. Then we’ll answer a couple questions you might have.

Call These Senators To Voice Your Concerns About Price

Who needs to call: people who live in Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, Texas, South Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Louisiana.

Who to call: Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee

Orrin Hatch (UT) – (202) 224-5251

Chuck Grassley (IA) – (202) 224-3744

Mike Crapo (ID) – (202) 224-6142

Pat Roberts (KS) – (202) 224-4774

Michael B. Enzi (WY) – (202) 224-3424

John Cornyn (TX) – (202) 224-2934

John Thune (SD) – (202) 224-2321

Richard Burr (NC) – (202) 224-3154

Tim Scott (SC) – (202) 224-6121

Johnny Isakson (GA) – (202) 224-3643

Rob Portman (OH) – (202) 224-3353

Patrick Toomey (PA) – (202) 224-4254

Dean Heller (NV) – (202) 224-6244

Bill Cassidy, M.D. (LA) – 202-224-5824

What to say:

Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a constituent of [SENATOR’S NAME] from [CITY WHERE YOU LIVE]. My address is [ADDRESS]. I’m calling to urge [SENATOR’S NAME] to vote against Tom Price’s confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. This is not a matter of opinion on the Affordable Care Act, or even of partisanship. There is at least some question as to whether Representative Price has used his Congressional seat to protect his own financial interests. That uncertainty alone concerns me, and should be grounds for [SENATOR’S NAME] to vote against his confirmation. As our healthcare system changes, we need a Secretary with a clean record, no ties to medical providers or pharmaceutical companies, and absolutely no doubt that he or she serves the American people above all else.

If [SENATOR’S NAME] truly believes in patient choice, access, and quality, [HE/SHE] must vote against Tom Price’s confirmation — and [HE/SHE] will lose my vote if [HE/SHE] does not.

Please feel free to personalize your script and make it sound more natural to you, but please stick to this message. This is a message tailored to Senate Republicans, because that is who you are talking to. They’re going to ask your zip code or address to verify you’re a constituent, and that is normal.

What to do if you don’t live in those states: talk to EVERYONE you know who does and share this far and wide. Keep in mind your audience when you’re talking to people—if your friend or family member is progressive, go ahead and share this article, that’s fine. If they aren’t or you’re not sure, talk to them, text or email them instead and express that you’re sure you can both agree one one thing: that someone being confirmed to a cabinet position needs to be more qualified than this. We all have to be 100% certain that our Secretary of Health and Human Services is not financially benefitting from their own policies, and has not done so in the past. Tell them to fight for the best cabinet, and that you’re confident that the Trump administration can find a better nominee.

When to take action: IMMEDIATELY. If you’re in any of the above-mentioned states, pick up the phone and call now. If you’re not, mobilize your network and share this information on social media.

Alrighty, now for some questions:

Why These Senators?

These Senators are on the Senate Finance Committee, specifically the Republican ones. There are Democrats on this committee, too—you may have seen Ron Wyden grilling Price about his use of governmental authority to profit off his pharmaceutical stocks, for instance. You can call them too! Just because they’re Democrats doesn’t mean they share your values (for example, Schumer fell in line regarding Mike Pompeo and I near about fell out of my chair). But in order for this action to have a feather’s chance in a hurricane, it’s mostly the Republicans we need to convince.

Wait—Why Not The Senate HELP Committee?

I (Ali) was confused about this too, and had to do some additional research and ask around. Finance and HELP have joint jurisdiction over Health and Human Services Secretary, which means they can both call hearings. But it is the Finance Committee who can choose not to move Price forward, so that’s who we need to be calling. We can’t seem to find an exact date for their vote, so it’s imperative that we take action now.

Why Aren’t We All Calling These Senators?

Alas, unless we live in their states, we cannot! And we’d just be blocking the phone lines for people who can. So if you don’t live in one of the states listed, think about your network—who do you know who does? We don’t even need a million people to do it. When Senators start receiving calls like this, they talk to each other about it. That’s what we’re trying to have happen. So yes, your two friends in Ohio or your mom who lives in Georgia can really make a difference.

Why Are We Focused on Health and Human Services?

Carrie: As someone with a whopper of a preexisting condition who’d probably max out any “lifetime cap” by age 35 (if I haven’t already), of course I want the Affordable Care Act to stay put. But if that’s not happening — and it seems like it won’t — then my next priority is who’s steering the ship. I believe in the argument we’re making here: there needs to be absolutely no question that our HHS Secretary is working for the good of the people, even if he or she doesn’t necessarily share my views on healthcare. You can’t really say that for certain about Tom Price. At the very least, he’s got a habit of making questionable financial moves — and that should be enough to raise anybody’s eyebrow. Whatever changes are coming can’t be for the benefit of one guy’s stock portfolio, and we shouldn’t be able to question whether they are.

Ali: The Wallstreet Journal reported last month that Tom Price traded more than $300,000 shares in health-related companies while also pursuing legislation that could affect the value of those shares. That’s enough to disqualify literally anyone. But what Carrie says above is totally correct—it’s a queer issue. Think of the amount of queer folk living with a pre-existing condition because SOME OTHER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT COULDN’T SAY THE WORD AIDS WITH HIS MOUTH, for instance. Lambda Legal’s emailed out about HHS, that’s how queer of an issue this is. And Trump has said he’ll be working with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to come up with a plan to replace the ACA (he also said he’d already worked with Tom Price on it, but that was a lie). We need someone to harm reduce for the next four years, and this is not that guy.

Why Aren’t Y’all Two Going After Sessions RN? He’s WAY More Evil Than This

We super duper wanted to. Sessions was too racist to be a judge back in the days of yore, he’s too racist to be our Attorney General now. We want to fight tooth and nail against Sessions. But we think he’s gonna get confirmed no matter what we do. We asked around and talked to a policy expert—she agrees. So we’re going after Price as our second pick. We think Republicans will have a hard time defending his tax returns and his $300,000 worth of shares traded while pursuing legislation that could impact the companies he had invested in.

Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And support from readers like you keeps the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers do not support. Autostraddle is fundraising right now to keep our site funded through January 2022. Will you join our community of readers in helping to keep us around?

Carrie's body is weird and she's making that work for her. She lives in DC by way of Los Angeles and has a conflicted relationship with social media, but you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram anyway.

Carrie has written 83 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. Yo if you are an Iowan I would also recommend mentioning that Grassley is failing in his duty and isn’t representing Iowa Values(tm). He knows he never had any of our votes and I’ve heard tell some of his aides are willing to argue about it. Don’t fret though! Call!

  2. do we know if it’s better to leave a message or keep calling till we get a hold of someone? i’m doing the latter but also i’ve called four times 15 minutes apart and they’re not picking up. I assume they’re eating lunch but also should i keep calling or leave a message?

  3. Also thank you so much for publishing these, AS! The script is especially helpful! I really want to call re: NEH funding potentially being eliminated but have no idea what to say on the phone (besides “we should study the humanities so this whole political situation doesn’t happen again.”)

  4. Tim Mother Fucking Scott’s machine has been full and not taking messages for the past four days straight. Is it laziness or cowardice that keeps him/his staff from picking up the phone? I’m goin’ with both.

  5. Tim Scott’s voicemail has been full since 1/23, and though he has responded to emails about DeVos and Price he has not responded to emails about his need to pick up the phone and actually speak to his constituents. If you’re from SC, call senator graham too, and ask him to pressure Scott to listen/ relay the message. Lindsey Graham: 202) 224-5972

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