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Orthopedic surgeon named new head of HHS

December 07, 2016

Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) was chosen by President-Elect Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A six-term Congressman and former Georgia state Senator, Dr. Price was an orthopedic surgeon for 20 years before he went into politics and is the third generation of physicians in his family.

Dr. Price would be the first physician to serve as the nation’s top health official since President George H.W. Bush appointed Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., in 1989 and only the third doctor to serve as secretary of the department in its 63-year history.

Dr. Price, age 62, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years and became the chairman of the House Budget Committee in 2015. He’s one of 18 members in the House GOP Doctors Caucus and has been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, Dr. Price proposed one of the first – and most detailed – replacement proposals in 2009, which included age-adjusted tax credits to help buy insurance and increased reliance on health savings accounts. It also would have allowed interstate insurance sales.

Dr. Price has supported converting Medicaid into block grants to states, which would give more latitude from federal requirements about eligibility rules and the medical services that must be covered for low-income Americans. He has also favored switching Medicare from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” to give older or disabled Americans financial vouchers to buy private health insurance.

An original Tea Party Caucus member and former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Dr. Price is self-described as “devoted to limited government and lower spending.” His voting record on women’s health, LGBTQ and some ACA-related issues often runs counter to California Medical Association (CMA) policies, but CMA stands ready to work with Dr. Price to ensure that everyone has access to health care.

Dr. Price’s 20 years in medicine have also provided a unique perspective and credibility in understanding how health care legislation impacts the practice of medicine. To that end, Dr. Price has championed limiting medical malpractice lawsuits and easing Medicare regulations, particularly on the use of electronic health records. He has fought to protect the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship. He also seems keenly aware of how important it is to ensure that physicians have a seat at the health care policy-making table. CMA is eager to work with Dr. Price to provide relief for physicians from the Medicare regulatory morass.

CMA has a proven track record of working on both sides of the aisle to protect the practice of medicine – thanks in large part to the strength and diversity of our membership. Despite the many changes coming to the national scene, CMA remains focused on improving California’s health care system, protecting Medicaid and Medicare funding and providing patients access to high-quality and affordable care.

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