Price has led efforts to craft a GOP alternative to the spectacularly unpopular Affordable Care Act.
WASHINGTON— Louise Radnofsky and Peter Nicholas report: President-elect Donald Trump has chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R., Ga.) as his nominee for secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, according to a transition team adviser, putting the six-term congressman in charge of the sprawling agency that will likely dismantle Democrats’ 2010 health-care overhaul.
“We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care. The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”
Mr. Price, a 62-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, is one of several GOP physicians who sought to carve out a leading role in shaping the party’s health policy and, in particular, the party’s alternative vision to Democrats’ Affordable Care Act. Much of his criticism of the law has centered on the authority it gives to the federal government, and to the agency that he may now head.
“There’s a genuine desire to have us coalesce around a single plan so that the American people can see who’s trying to solve these challenges. I wouldn’t draw any lines in the sand other than that the path that we’re on doesn’t work.”
“We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care,” he said in an interview this summer. “The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”
He has championed his own legislation, the Empowering Patients First Act, since 2009, taking a position on a number of hot-button issues for conservative health policy thinkers. In its latest iteration, the proposal includes refundable, age-adjusted tax credits for people to buy insurance if they don’t have access to coverage through an employer or government program. People in a government program, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare, would also be allowed to opt out of it and get tax credits toward the cost of private coverage instead.
Mr. Price had previously included tax deductions in his plans, a tool typically favored by harder-line conservative health policy thinkers, but said he had “moved towards credits because we felt it was cleaner.”
The plan offers a one-time credit aimed at boosting health savings accounts, long described by supporters as a way of bringing down medical spending, and derives part of its funding from capping how much employers can spend on providing employee health care before being taxed. The plan seeks to make health insurance available to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions by helping states set up new “high-risk” pools or other programs for such enrollees, and sets new rules allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.
But Mr. Price, whose rise in the congressional ranks began at the conservative Republican Study Committee and then steadily climbed, has already said he is open to compromise with fellow GOP lawmakers on many points. Read the rest of this entry »