Trump announces selection of Tom Price for Health secretary

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President-elect Donald Trump has picked Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to be Health and Human Services secretary.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who is close to Trump’s healthcare policy team, confirmed the report to The Hill late Monday.

Trump’s transition announced Price’s selection early Tuesday.

“Chairman Price, a renowned physician, 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. “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.”

Price, who currently leads the House Budget Committee, has spent more than a decade in Congress and has become a close ally of GOP leadership. As a member of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, Price helped shape the healthcare plan that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) now pitches as his alternative to ObamaCare. 

{mosads}The former orthopedic surgeon will now be among Trump’s top advisers as he works with the Republican-controlled Congress to repeal the now six-year-old law.

“I am humbled by the incredible challenges that lay ahead and enthusiastic for the opportunity to be a part of solving them on behalf of the American people,” Price said in the Tuesday morning statement. “There is much work to be done to ensure we have a healthcare system that works for patients, families, and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit.”

Price could also oversee a major overhaul of Medicare: The budget chairman said last week that House GOP leaders are hoping to make major changes to the program in the second half of 2017. 

Price had been considered the top pick for the job as recently as last week, according to a Hill source.

The experience as Budget chairman will be key for Trump as he and GOP leaders eye a complex budget tactic, known as reconciliation, to rip apart ObamaCare and draft an alternative that passes muster with the Congressional Budget Office.

Price’s close ties with leadership could also help improve a rocky relationship between Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Ryan early Tuesday called Price “the absolute perfect choice.”

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), however, said the Georgia lawmaker is “far out of the mainstream.”

“Price is a serious, principled, and knowledgeable health policy maker,” said Tom Miller, a leading healthcare voice for the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “A workhouse who also can speak fluently in public.”

But Price’s departure will also leave a major vacancy at the top of the Budget Committee at a time when GOP leaders will be pushing Congress’s budget rules to the limits.

Trump offered Price the post Monday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence also said to expect important announcements on Tuesday.

“Look forward to being back at it first thing in the morning and there will be a number of very important announcements tomorrow,” Pence said Monday evening as he left Trump Tower in New York City, according to a pool report. 

Price emerged as a top contender for HHS secretary earlier this month, beating out competitors such as former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R), who is advising Trump’s transition team.

As HHS chief, Price will be on the front lines of the battle over President Obama’s signature healthcare legislation.

Price is a vocal critic of ObamaCare, and he brings a deep background in health legislation. In 2014, as the law faced a major challenge at the Supreme Court, Price authored his own plan to replace the law.

A Vox analysis of the plan found that it includes fewer dollars for high-risk pools — $3 billion — than other proposals.

Price has also previously served as chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, as has Pence.

Price also supports an idea backed by Ryan to shift Medicare to rely more on private insurance. The government would provide financial assistance to help people afford private plans or the current government-run option. 

Republicans say this would save the government money, while Democrats warn it would “end Medicare as we know it” and erode the guarantee of care for seniors.

Price is also like Pence in that he could serve as a bridge between the Trump White House and GOP leadership on Capitol Hill.

Trump has frequently stated he plans on making ObamaCare reform an early focus of his incoming administration.

The president-elect admitted earlier this month, however, that he is open to an “amended” version of the healthcare law keeping two of its most popular provisions. 

Trump voiced willingness to keep protections for people with preexisting conditions and letting young people remain on their parents’ plans until age 26.

This report was updated on Nov. 29 at 8:13 a.m.

Tags Chuck Schumer Department of Health and Human Services Donald Trump Healthcare HHS Mike Pence ObamaCare Paul Ryan Republicans Transition

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