HHS Nominee Representative Tom Price’s Views on Healthcare

On November 29th, President-elect Donald Trump chose Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.  Rep. Price is a third-generation physician that practiced for 20 years and has severed as a US Congressman for 6 terms.  He has served on the House Committee on Ways and Means and is Chair of the House Committee on the Budget.

We wanted to look at what legislation he has introduced and co-sponsored on healthcare in the past so we might shape opinions of where Trump-cabinet policies might head in the future.

  • Congressman Price has introduced comprehensive legislation to replace the ACA every year since 2009. One of the bills proposed was the Empowering Patients First Act, called for replacing the ACA and offer age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of individual and family health insurance policies. The bill would create incentives for people to contribute to health saving accounts; offer grants to states to subsidize insurance for “high-risk populations”; allow insurers licensed in one state to sell policies to residents in others; and authorize business and professional groups to provide coverage to members through “association health plans.”  His plan pushes for price and quality transparency for all providers.
  • He is supported by the AMA, but not all doctors. Congressman Price is an orthopedic physician and after his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services was announced the American Medical Association was quick to support one of their own.  The AMA’s support help pass President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  As Republicans push for its dismantlement, deep disagreement within the AMA, could lessen its influence. Since the AMA’s announced support more than 5,000 signed a petition saying, “the AMA doesn’t speak for us.”
  • As a State Senator, he advocated for a $250,000 limit on the damages that juries could award to afflicted patients in alleged malpractice suits. Price’s Obamacare replacement bill would create state administrative tribunals to hear cases of alleged malpractices in lieu of jury trials.  Congressman Price has also supported allowing physicians to opt-out of Medicare and Medicaid so they can charge “market prices” for their services.
  • Medicare would be significantly different. Despite articles and rumors that Price wants to “phase-out” Medicare, Congressman’s Price has never introduced legislation suggesting such an idea.  His plans do include a Medicare Advantage-type alternative for Medicare where beneficiaries would pick from a list of government-approved plans and the government would make a payment to the insurers to help cover the cost of the plan.  Essentially converting from a defined benefit program into a defined contribution program.
  • Congressman Price made is position clear on value-based care this past September in a letter to the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlining several problems he and two other congressmen found with the Comprehensive Care Joint Replacement Model and Cardiac Bundled Payment Model.  The Congressmen believed the program excludes providers and will ultimately lead to lower quality, which will impact patient quality.  Price has been a staunch proponent of putting the patient first and any legislation that excludes providers and patient choice usually leads to his opposition.  Some value-base care programs (ACO, bundled payments) ends up limiting the number of participating providers.

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