Donald Trump’s Choices for Cabinet Posts

To the Editor:

Re “Choice to Lead H.H.S. Is Eager to Cut Its Clout” (news article, Dec. 5):

The last time I heard a politician glibly suggest that citizens “vote with their feet” if they didn’t like how their state was administering federally funded health programs like Medicaid and maternal and child health programs, Ronald Reagan was president and I was Maine’s health and human services commissioner.

Now along comes Representative Tom Price, likely the next Health and Human Services secretary, who is committed to the same Reagan ideology of unbridled market competition, and who also says patients should be able to shop among insurance companies for a better deal. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

Shopping for insurance is not like shopping for a car. Should health insurance — medical care, really — be left to market pricing set by companies whose goal is to turn a profit? No. Already, even well-informed consumers have trouble navigating the current insurance maze. For others, Mr. Price’s reliance on the private sector would make it even worse.

As commissioner I saw firsthand that it was impossible for many physically and intellectually impaired citizens — bedbound seniors, abandoned children and the severely disabled, including those having no feet — to make life and death choices about their health insurance. No amount of competition will change that reality.

Reagan’s tenure was marked by ideologically driven deep cuts in health and social services that harmed many vulnerable citizens. Mr. Price’s philosophy promises more of the same.


Portland, Me.

Michael Petit is the founder of Every Child Matters. This letter to the editor was published in the New York Times on Dec. 5, 2016.