Nominee Tom Price is the doctor HHS needs
© Greg Nash

As a physician and former member of the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2014, I am very pleased with President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE's selection of my friend, fellow Georgian and former colleague Dr. Tom Price to serve as his secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Not since President George H.W. Bush picked Dr. Louis Sullivan as the 17th HHS secretary in 1989 have we had such a uniquely qualified individual and healthcare professional to lead this huge and tremendously important department of our federal government.

Running an agency the size and scope of HHS requires many things: a strong understanding and appreciation of the nation's healthcare system, knowledge of the myriad other issues and agencies under the HHS umbrella, strong leadership and management skills, deep intellect, a capacity for learning and listening, creative problem-solving, and a willingness to try new things.

Price brings all of these characteristics to the job and certainly his well-recognized work ethic, knowledge of both policy and process, and commitment to improving the nation's healthcare system are some of the principal reasons Trump tapped him to fill this crucial Cabinet position.

But most importantly, our president-elect at a "time such as this" (as another doctor, Ben Carson, said) knows that someone with hands-on experience in patient-centered care is absolutely essential to his success in moving the nation forward to the next generation of healthcare reform.

I first had the pleasure of getting to know Price 25 years ago, while we were both in medical practice in Atlanta and he was serving in a leadership role with the Medical Association of Georgia. Immediately, I was impressed with his ability to balance running a busy orthopedic practice and meeting the demands of helping lead a statewide physician organization.

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We went on to serve together in the Georgia State Senate, where his tenacity, incredible work ethic and health policy expertise were evident, as well as his leadership skills as exhibited through his roles as minority whip and then majority leader.

Following his successful state legislative career, Price was elected to Congress in 2004 and over the last 12 years in the U.S. House has incessantly illustrated his dedication to his constituents, the healthcare provider community and the nation. Through hard work, collaboration with colleagues, and levering his health policy expertise, he has earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Price has always led by example and being action- and solution-oriented, puts policy proposals forward. For example, during the healthcare reform debate in 2010, he introduced the Empowering Patients First Act. His legislation was intended to serve as a Republican alternative to the Democrats' bill, but it eventually was positioned as a potential replacement of the enacted Affordable Care Act.

While some may disagree with his specific approach to solving the nation's challenges of providing affordable coverage and access to care, one cannot disagree that he is a health policy leader who puts pen to paper and does not shy away from the details and complexities of healthcare reform.

The secretary of HHS needs to be someone thoughtful, knowledgeable, respected, trusted and able to solve problems. Price exceeds these job requirements.

I hope the Senate quickly confirms him as secretary so the nation can begin to see what his patients, constituents and congressional colleagues all know: that he is a compassionate, competent and smart man who will help steer the nation's largest healthcare agency through a period of change with a steady hand on the rudder.

Phillip Gingrey, M.D. is a former U.S. congressman, having served Georgia's 11th Congressional District from 2003 to 2015. He is currently a senior adviser with the District Policy Group at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.


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