Donald Trump appoints Obamacare's biggest opponent as Health Secretary

Tom Price, 62, is a six-term congressman and orthopaedic surgeon

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The Independent Online

Throughout his election campaign, Donald Trump vowed that he would rip up Obamacare and replace it with something better and more efficient.

On Tuesday, his transition team announced that the President-elect had selected Georgia Congressman Tom Price, a harsh critic of Barack Obama Affordable Care Act – and of LGBT rights – to begin scrapping his predecessor’s landmark legislative bill.

“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,” Mr 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.”

While Mr Trump may be happy with his selection of Mr Price, others will will not. The congressman has a zero per cent rating from the Human Rights Committee, the most influential advocacy group for the LGBT community. His public stance against abortion has earned him a similar rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

 

In addition to appointing Mr Price, 62, a six-term congressman and orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Trump announced that he also selected Seema Verma to be the administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

The Associated Press said that if Mr Price is confirmed by the Senate, he will be at the centre of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

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Mr Trump has said he will move quickly in replacing the policy, though he has also indicated – since meeting with Mr Obama in the Oval Office – that some parts of the programme may be retained.

Mr Trump said of Ms Verma, currently the president and founder of SVC Inc, a national health policy consulting company: “She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems.”

He added: “Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans.”

Mr Price has chaired the House Budget Committee for the past two years. Described by as AP as a bookish conservative from the Atlanta suburbs, Mr Price has worked closely with House Speaker Paul Ryan to assemble Republican budgets aimed at reducing the annual deficit.

“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,” Mr Price said on Tuesday.

Last week, Mr Price said whatever Republicans did to replace Mr Obama’s health care law would bear a “significant resemblance” to a 2015 measure that was vetoed by the President. 

That bill would have gutted some of the health care law’s main features: Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help middle-class Americans buy private policies, the tax penalties for individuals who refused to get coverage and several taxes to support coverage expansion. The bill would have delayed implementation for two years.

Mr Price has insisted that Republicans can keep the protections for those with existing medical conditions without mandating that all individuals carry coverage or pay a penalty to support an expanded insurance pool.

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