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In West Virginia, police arrested a journalist who shouted questions at Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, but Price said it was not his call whether they took the proper steps. Instead, he commended them for doing what they thought was appropriate.
Price said the reporter confronted him in a hallway. “That gentleman was not in a press conference,” he said.
As Price walked through the West Virginia State Capitol last month, an aggressively trying to get past Secret Service agents while yelling questions at Public News Service reporter Daniel Ralph Heyman was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Police in West Virginia said Heyman was “aggressively” trying to get past Secret Service agents while yelling questions at Price.
The question to be answered by Price is whether he believes Heyman should have been arrested. He replied: “That’s not my decision to make.”
New Hampshire is fighting the opioid epidemic by raising prices on drugs.
It was reported Tuesday night that Heyman did not believe he had committed a crime, instead claiming he was simply doing his job, seeking to find out whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the proposed Health Care Reform. He was later released on $5,000 bond.
National media organizations and civil liberties groups were widely aware of the Price episode, largely overshadowing Kellyanne Conway’s visit to West Virginia to discuss the opioid epidemic there, due to Price’s visit. Conway and Price have been on a listening tour in recent days, meeting with law enforcement, public health officials, and individuals with personal stories of addiction. They stopped in West Virginia and Michigan Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to New Hampshire.
Price and Conway have to deal with reporters, advocates, and participants in the nation’s protests about whether their actions contradict their stated policies as a result of the events nationwide. While the White House has stated that it is preliminary on the proposal to cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 95%, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who issued a comprehensive report on the opioid epidemic last year, has been fired.
Advocates are also wary about the impact of the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
More than $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid over a decade could be imposed on states if House legislation becomes law, according to an estimate by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. States could define what services insurers must cover, possibly excluding substance abuse treatment, under current Senate legislation.
But President Trump is aware of the difficulty and importance of combating opioid overdose, Price said.
Conway said that a key part of the listening tour was to hear from people who have been directly affected by addiction. “We will take those experiences and individuals into account,” she said.
During the closed-door meeting with Price, Conway, and Concord officials, said Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kuster, “virtually everyone” in the room raised the importance of the Medicaid expansion. “It kept coming up,” she said. Price did not answer the concerns, she said.
New Hampshire, one of the 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said it wanted to continue the expansion, but Republican Gov. Chris Sununu didn’t say whether he did.
He said he was worried about the House passage of the bill, but he believed the Senate would probably alter it. He did not want to lose ground on providing treatment for substance abuse and mental health, he also credited the House and the administration for getting the bill through the House and the White House for being proactive in reaching out to governors.
“Failure to reform our health care system in the United States is not an option,” he said.
Protesters Argumented outside of the meeting that the Republican health care plan, in their View, will cause deaths, in order to make their Point.
Amy Girouard, who lives in Concord, is participating in the rally because her 10-year-old daughter, Allison, has Angelman syndrome, a rare genetic disease that requires Medicaid for both medical care and services and aides at home and school. She said she feared GOP plans to limit Medicaid spending and about what that might mean for people with preexisting conditions.
“That would be really bad for her school and home health care, as well as her medical coverage,” she said.
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