President-elect Donald Trump has selected Georgia Rep. Tom Price, a leading critic of President Barack Obama's sweeping health care law, to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Price "has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday. “He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Health and Human Services.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Price will play a central role in Republican efforts to repeal and replace the current health care law. Trump has pledged to move quickly on overhauling the landmark measure, but has been vague about what he hopes to see in a replacement bill.
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The president-elect has said he favors keeping provisions that allow young people to stay on their parents' health insurance and that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
Trump also chose Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
He said in a stement Verma "has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems. Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans.”
Price, a 62-year-old six-term congressman and orthopedic surgeon, has chaired the House Budget Committee for the past two years. A bookish conservative from the Atlanta suburbs, Price has worked closely with House Speaker Ryan to assemble GOP budgets aimed at reducing the annual deficit.
Last week, Price said whatever Republicans do to replace Obama's health care law will bear a "significant resemblance" to a 2015 measure that was vetoed by the president. That bill would have gutted some of the health care law's main features: Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help middle-class Americans buy private policies, the tax penalties for individuals who refused to get coverage and several taxes to support coverage expansion. The bill would have delayed implementation for two years.
Price insisted that Republicans can keep the protections for those with existing medical conditions without mandating that all individuals carry coverage or pay a penalty to support an expanded insurance pool. Price said Republicans want to address "the real cost drivers" of health care price spikes, which he said were not necessarily sicker patients, but a heavy regulatory burden, taxes and lawsuits against medical professionals.