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Trump said to pick Tom Price to lead health and human services

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 11:07
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US Representative Tom Price, one of the original House Tea Party caucus members, has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a person familiar with the matter.

[WASHINGTON] US Representative Tom Price, one of the original House Tea Party caucus members, has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Republican orthopedic surgeon from Georgia has served since 2015 as chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he's been a main architect of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, which requires Americans to purchase health insurance and offers subsidies to help them afford it.

Mr Price, 62, would be at the centre of the Trump administration's effort to devise an alternative to the health law, also known as the Affordable Care Act. Mr Trump said during the campaign that he wants to get rid of the law.

If Mr Price is confirmed for the HHS job by the Senate, his departure from Congress would cap a congressional career that began in 2005 after his election by an Atlanta-area House district. Mr Price had served previously as a state lawmaker, rising to become Senate majority leader.

Mr Price grew up in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan and its medical school. He worked for almost 20 years as a surgeon. His wife, Betty Price, was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in July 2015.

Mr Price was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of the most conservative members in the US House, in 2009 and 2010. In May 2015, he proposed a bill to replace Obamacare that focused on tax credits, expanding health savings accounts and revising laws governing medical malpractice.

Mr Trump's HHS secretary likely will have to manage an overhaul of Medicare, the health-care system for the elderly and disabled, that's planned by Republican lawmakers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has proposed to privatise Medicare and provide seniors with vouchers to help cover health-insurance premiums. Mr Price said Nov 17 that Republicans plan to use a procedural measure known as reconciliation to make the changes to Medicare in 2017.

Mr Price is a member of the Doctors Caucus, which recently has raised concern over a proposal from the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a new payment system for physicians. The group said the system has the potential to "overcomplicate an already burdensome and complex" system.

In early 2011, the House Ethics Committee announced it had dropped an investigation of Mr Price and two other lawmakers into their fundraising appeals to Wall Street firms at the same time they were considering legislation to overhaul financial regulation. 

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics had asked the committee to look because each of the three had "solicited or accepted contributions in a manner which gave the appearance" they were linked to an official act. Yet the Ethics Committee concluded that their positions on the legislation "were not connected to fundraising activities".

BLOOMBERG