While defending the GOP health-care bill Wednesday night, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price suggested states should decide whether immunizations should be mandated, a comment that has further fueled fears of President Trump’s administration buying into anti-vaccine theories. Price was fielding questions about the new health care plan at a town-hall event moderated by CNN, and he praised the House Republican plan as “much better” than the Affordable Care Act. When asked whether immunizations for children should be required, Price suggested that states should decide for themselves how to regulate vaccinations. While the federal government does not mandate vaccinations, it does have the power to influence policies, many of which are set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which Price now oversees. Price said the regulations happen “by and large at the state level because they’re the ones who have the public-health responsibility… to determine whether or not immunizations are required for a community population.” Currently, the CDC does recommend vaccinations, though many fear Price will change that policy.
Last month, Price was reported to be a member of an organization whose views are largely at odds with those of the federal government and mainstream physicians on health care. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a fringe medical group for which Price has previously given speeches, views vaccinations as “human experimentation” rather than a tool for preventing the spread of illnesses. In January, Price was forced to refute a conspiracy theory claiming vaccines cause autism, an idea Trump has long propagated.