Trump picked a doctor and Congressional budget hawk to run HHS
He's set to slice up Obamacare
While some Republicans have signaled major changes to Obamacare are a long time in the making, President-elect Donald Trump has sent a strong signal that the law’s days are numbered, no matter what.
That signal is Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Georgia Republican and medical doctor is among the law’s most studied and determined opponents.
What makes Price right for the job?
As head of HHS, he would be responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and its potential unwinding.
Of course, the full role of the department is much larger than the ACA. HHS is tasked with protecting the health of the whole country and is composed of many agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. As a medical doctor and an experienced watchdog of the government and spending from his perch atop the House Budget Committee, Price could bring the knowhow required to manage the critical department and even retool its many agencies under his conservative philosophy.
The American Medical Association, an influential industry group representing doctors, has “strongly” endorsed Price to lead HHS.
What do Price’s critics say?
Price opposes even more of the Affordable Care Act than Trump. For example, Price’s proposed health care overhaul does not require insurers to cover pre-existing conditions, a policy Trump has repeatedly pledged to maintain.
Price has also backed moves to reform and cut Medicare benefits, an entitlement program for the nation’s elderly that Trump has pledged to protect.
Outside of his conservative economic record, others may find his social stances a major issue. Chief among these for the HHS job: Price is anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and opposed to the Obamacare provision mandating birth control access.
What made Price who he is?
Price spent about 20 years as an orthopedic surgeon and was an assistant professor at Emory’s School of Medicine before moving directly to politics. He spent four terms in the Georgia Senate and has represented a conservative-leaning district in suburban Atlanta in the US House of Representatives since his election in 2004.
A wonkish member of the GOP caucus, Price made a name for himself drafting conservative budget proposals and becoming among the fiercest critics of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
Price is an apparent member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a controversial group that has reportedly promoted false medical statements, like linking abortions to breast cancer.
His wife is an anesthesiologist who is involved in state politics. As a member of the Georgia House, she advocated a bill that would have protected people administering needle exchange programs from legal repercussions. Her husband has opposed funding for such programs.
Price also has investments in various medical interests.