News Feature | December 8, 2016

Trump Taps Price For HHS Head; Garners Criticism

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Georgia Rep. Tom Price is a leading critic of Obamacare.

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Georgia Representative Tom Price to be the new head of the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), a move that has some stakeholders concerned as Price is a leading critic of Obamacare.

According to ABC News, Trump said Price “is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare’ and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American.” Price said in a statement, “There is much work to be done to ensure we have a healthcare system that works for patients, families, and doctors.” Replacing President Barack Obama’s healthcare law is “one of the things he’s going to lead the charge on as secretary of HHS,” said Jason Miller, a Trump transition team spokesman.

U.S. News reported Price would play a significant leading role in Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act if confirmed as the new HHS leader. While Trump has pledged to move swiftly to make sweeping changes to Obamacare, he has been vague about what he would implement in its place.

As Health IT Outcomes reported, among provisions Trump supports are allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance longer and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

Some heathcare industry stakeholders are encouraged by Trump’s choice for HHS head. CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell issued a statement regarding the nomination, stating, “Rep. Tom Price has been at the forefront of advancing important reforms to the nation’s health IT policy landscape. He was a leader in pushing for greater flexibility in the Meaningful Use program, including the 90-day reporting period… [and he] was also instrumental in 2015 in extending the timeline for providers to apply for hardship exemptions under the Meaningful Use program.”

Branzell pledged CHIME is “ready to continue our work with the leadership team at HHS, including Dr. Price and Seema Verma at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to develop policies that will better enable CHIME members to implement IT solutions that transform the nation’s healthcare system.”

But not all stakeholders were supportive of Trump’s choice. In an emailed statement, Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President and Dr. Eve Kellner, President of the Committee of Interns and Residents, wrote, “President-elect Trump’s choice of Representative Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services proves he has tuned out the voices of America’s working families, many of whom are counting on Medicaid, Medicare or the Affordable Care Act for their healthcare.

“As the nation’s largest union of healthcare workers, including thousands of resident physicians and fellows, we know that comprehensive primary care is essential to the doctor-patient relationship, but Rep. Price’s proposals would block millions of patients from preventive healthcare — resulting in a worst-case scenario for physicians and their patients.” 

Henry and Kellner continued, “Working families across America already struggle to make ends meet for their families and cannot afford higher costs for prescription drugs and higher premiums for less care. That’s Rep. Price’s vision and the vision of Republicans in Congress. We cannot allow them to put the health of seniors, children and working people at risk and will continue to fight back with a growing movement of people across this country that will stand up and defend access to quality, affordable healthcare for all.”