New HHS Secretary Dr. Price promises physician-friendly reforms
Tom Price, MD, has become the third physician to serve as secretary of Department of Health and Human Services since the establishment of the agency more than 60 years ago.1
Organizations representing physicians overwhelmingly supported Dr. Price's nomination, although a vocal minority opposed his appointment on varied grounds, including poorly timed health care stock trades and his membership in a politically conservative non-profit group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
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As HHS secretary, Dr. Price will administer a budget of more than $1 trillion and oversee agencies including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. As such, according to Kaiser Health News, he "can interpret laws in different ways… and rewrite regulations and guidance, which is how many important policies are actually carried out."
Dr. Price is also expected to play a key role in repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making significant changes to Medicare.
Last May, as a member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Price introduced a bill to replace the ACA with tax credits, health savings account incentives, tort reforms, and other health system changes. The goal of the legislation, according to Dr. Price, was to "get Washington out of the way while protecting and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship."
1. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare was created in 1953 and restructured as the Department of Health and Human Services in 1979. The two previous secretaries with a medical degree are Otis R. Bowen, MD (1985 to 1989) and Louis Sullivan, MD (1989 to 1993).