Donald Trump set to pick man who has spent years studying how to dismantle Obamacare as health secretary

US congressman likely to be placed in charge of Health Department also opposes abortion and gay marriage

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The Independent US

Donald Trump’s reported nominee for the position of Health Secretary is a man who has spent more than six years trying to abolish Obamacare.

Tom Price, a former orthopaedic surgeon who now represents part of Atlanta in the House of Representatives, has been attempting to replace Mr Obama’s Affordable Care Act since it was first introduced in 2010.

Mr Price is the President-elect’s choice to lead the US Health Department, according to The New York Times quoting a Trump transition team official. 

As Health Secretary he will be responsible for a department with a $1 trillion budget, the health insurance of 100 million Americans and agencies that fund medical research and regulate drugs.

Most Republican representatives opposed the Affordable Care Act, which sought to extend health insurance to more Americans, but Mr Price has gone further still. He tabled bills in Congress proposing a detailed replacement of the policy in every year since 2009, when the Obama administration first started working on the plan.

Mr Price, who is 62 and has been a congressman since 2005, has previously criticised “a stifling and oppressive federal government” and said Obamacare interferes with the right of doctors and patients to make medical decisions.

Having practiced as a doctor for 20 years, he entered politics after becoming frustrated at Washington officials with no medical training making decisions on health policy. He currently chairs the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Speaking in 2010, shortly after Obamacare was introduced, Mr Price said: “Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration blatantly ignored the voices of the American people and rammed through a hyperpartisan piece of legislation that will have a disastrous effect on our nation’s health care system."

Since then he has said: “Premiums have gone up, not down. Many Americans lost the health coverage they were told time and time again by the president that they could keep. Choices are fewer. 

“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.”

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act – nicknamed Obamacare – introduced a number of changes designed to help Americans access health services. 

It banned insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions, mandated that all Americans must have health insurance, scrapped lifetime limits on what insurers will pay out and required companies with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance. 

The law also expanded the Medicaid programme that enables poorer Americans to access medical cover. 

An estimated 22 million people would lose medical insurance if Obamacare is repealed.

Critics, however, say the legislation places too many costs on businesses and constitutes an excessive intrusion by the state into people’s private lives. Republicans made several attempts to challenge Obamacare in the Supreme Court on these grounds but they were all rejected.

Donald Trump shifts his position on Obamacare during CBS 60 minutes interview

Under Mr Price’s proposals for an Obamacare replacement, the state would instead give families tax credits to help them purchase private insurance policies.

The Republican is a staunch opponent of abortion and has consistently voted against state funding of abortion services. He opposed requirements that insurers cover the cost of contraception without additional up-front costs, and has also said the legalisation of same-sex marriage was “a sad day for marriage”. 

Mr Trump is currently in the process of appointing his cabinet ahead of his swearing in as president on 20 January. Dr Ben Carson, who ran against Mr Trump for the Republican nomination, is rumoured to be announced as Housing and Urban Development Secretary later today, while General James Mattis, who previously said “it’s fun to shoot some people” is expected to be made Defense Secretary. 

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