President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Price, an orthopedic surgeon, spent more than two decades in private practice and has been a go-to Republican in Congress on health care policy.
Price chairs the Task Force on Health Care Reform, a group that has played a central role in crafting the Republican replacement to the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. The group began developing its agenda for health care reform in January 2016 and unveiled its plan in late June.
The task force's stated mission is to "modernize American health care with patient-centered solutions that improve access, choice and quality, lower costs, promote innovation, and strengthen the safety net for the most vulnerable."
Price said that the task force's replacement plan, called "A Better Way to Fix Health Care," is a patient-centered plan that allows everyone to have access to health coverage.
"We finally put to rest the notion that Republicans don't have a health care plan," Price said. "We're proposing a patient-centered solution where patients and families and doctors are making medical decisions and not Washington, D.C."
President-elect Trump has said he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a law that keeps Obamacare's provisions for individuals with pre-existing conditions and young adults, who insurance companies cannot remove from their parents' plans until they are 26. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has affirmed that these provisions are included in the GOP plan.
Price has been working on health care reform before Obamacare was signed into law. In 2009, Price introduced the Empowering Patients First Act, which was intended as an alternative to the Democrats' health overhaul.
Since then, Price has reintroduced the act as legislation that would repeal Obamacare and start over with patient-centered solutions.
"The Empowering Patients First Act puts patients, families and doctors in charge by focusing on the principles of affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, choices and responsiveness," Price said. "Those principles form the foundation of the solutions in H.R. 2300 – solutions including individual health pools and expanded health savings accounts, tax credits for the purchase of coverage and lawsuit abuse reforms to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine."
Price said he is enthusiastic about the nomination.
"It is an honor to be nominated to serve our nation as Secretary of Health and Human Services," Price said. "Thanks to President-Elect Donald Trump and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence for their confidence."
"There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit," he said.
Lawmakers have commended Trump's selection of Price.
"Tom Price has made health care his life's work," said Ryan. "As a doctor, he has practiced and taught medicine, and he knows exactly how Washington's decisions affect patients."
"As a legislator, he has played a leading role in developing conservative health care solutions that put patients first," Ryan said.
"Whether in the operating room or on the House floor, Dr. Price has dedicated his career to saving lives and improving health care for Americans from all walks of life," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas).
"Tom's leadership will ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services delivers real results for the American people, whether it's improving the way we access health care or reforming key programs designed to assist the most vulnerable," Brady said.