Orthopaedic Surgeon Could Be Next HHS Secretary

Rep. Tom Price.jpgAccording to Medscape (registration required) and other media reports, President-Elect Donald Trump has tapped Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA) to be the next secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Dr. Price, an orthopaedic surgeon, became chair of the House Budget Committee in 2014, and he is a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, which has vigorously opposed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Dr. Price has introduced ACA-replacement legislation called the Empowering Patients First Act. Among other things, Dr. Price’s legislation would allow Medicare-eligible people to opt out of the program and purchase private health insurance using tax credits. In the bill’s latest form, people between 18 and 35 years of age would also be eligible to receive $1200 in tax credits to buy health coverage on the individual market.

Dr. Price has taken other stands on health care policy that are consistent with a small-government approach, although he did vote for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which gradually shifts Medicare from a fee-for-service to pay-for-value system.

HHS Secretary nominees face a confirmation vote in the Senate, but by all accounts, Dr. Price’s personality will not get in the way of that. Donald Palmisano, Jr., executive director of the Medical Association of Georgia, told Medscape that Dr. Price is “approachable and accessible to political friends and foes alike.”

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