Politico, October 3, 2017
Paul Demko, David Pittman, and Brianna Ehley

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Tom Price may be gone as Health and Human Services secretary, but his efforts to put a conservative stamp on the $1.1 trillion agency, from promoting faith groups to scrapping Obamacare implementation, are likely to move forward without him.

A “draft strategic plan” for HHS, published before Price resigned last week, references “faith” or “faith-based” organizations more than 40 times in its five-year statement of priorities. The Obama administration’s last strategic plan contained only three such references.

The Price draft also repeatedly mentions protecting individuals from “conception to natural death” — language similar to that used by anti-abortion groups.

Conspicuously absent is virtually any mention of the agency’s responsibility to carry out provisions of the Affordable Act, which had dominated the Obama administration’s plan. Also gone are most references to the health needs of minority groups, from African-Americans who have some of the nation’s worst health outcomes, to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

Price’s yet-to-be-named successor would be free to change the agency’s road map and priorities, of course, after he resigned Friday after POLITICO reported he took more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded flights on charter and military planes.

But many of the draft’s priorities embody goals of the Trump administration and are therefore expected to survive. The five-year road map is often the vehicle for an administration to elaborate on its ideological goals, whether around culture war issues like abortion, or the role of safety net programs. [...]

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