Secretary Tom Price asks staff to 'reimagine' HHS; two new Trump appointees continue contrarian trend

Tom Price speaks at hearing
HHS Secretary Tom Price has launched an initiative to reorganize the federal department.

In a speech on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price urged staff to “reimagine” HHS and contribute their ideas on how to reorganize the wide-ranging federal department to make it more effective and efficient.

Price said his goal is to have a draft proposal ready by June 30 to present to the Office of Management and Budget on how to reorganize the department. He offered no hint as to what direction that reorganization will take but said he has set up an executive committee and steering committee to oversee the effort, as well as five working groups that represent its various divisions including the healthcare system.

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He said staff should see the effort “as an opportunity to reimagine" the work that they do and how to do it better.

“I don’t view this work as a budgetary exercise,” he said, but as an effort to better fulfill the department’s mission of improving the health and well-being of Americans. He said he is going into the process without any preconceived ideas of what will or won't work.

He urged staff to be enthusiastic and optimistic as the department moves forward with the effort. “Reorganizing any organization, large or small, is never an easy task,” he said. The HHS budget is bigger than the economies of some countries, he said.

Meanwhile, two new appointments to the department suggest the Trump administration is continuing its shake-up-Washington approach to staffing.

RELATED: Trump taps psychiatrist—and mental health services agency critic—for new role as assistant HHS secretary

Charmaine Yoest, one of the country’s leading pro-life crusaders, will serve as assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS. Yoest, a conservative author and commentator who is the former president of Americans United for Life, was appointed last Friday by President Donald Trump.

Various outlets have reported that she has said abortions cause breast cancer.

Another pro-life activist, Teresa Manning, will head HHS’ family planning section. Trump appointed her as HHS’ deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, which puts her in charge of the Title X program, which provides family planning funding for poor Americans or those without health insurance.

Manning is opposed to some forms of birth control, including the so-called morning-after pill, and has said she doesn't believe that preventative contraceptives are effective. 

RELATED: Anti-vaccine movement fears grow as Trump takes office

The Trump White House is making changes in the healthcare system, including the dismissal of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy from his post. Murthy was outspoken about gun violence, calling it a threat to public health, and was a strong voice in support of vaccines. Trump has expressed views that align with those of the antivaccine movement.

RELATED: Trump White House dismisses vaccine champion Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy

After refusing to resign, Murthy was fired one day before thousands of doctors, scientists and others marched in Washington and other cities in protest of the administration's stance on various medical and scientific issues.