On Nov. 29, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Georgia Rep. and House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Chairman Price, a physician, has represented Georgia’s Sixth District since 2005. Price serves as a senior member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.
As a trained orthopedic surgeon with nearly 20 years of experience, Chairman Price will bring the unique perspective of the physician community to his role of HHS secretary. He is expected to play a critical role in the repeal and replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) given his involvement in House efforts to repeal the ACA and draft a replacement.
Chairman Price is a member of both the House Freedom Caucus and the House Republican Study Committee. He has held several other congressional leadership positions, including chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee (RPC) and the Republican Study Committee. The RPC advises House Republicans on legislation being considered by the House of Representatives, and the Republican Study Committee is the conservative caucus of House Republicans.
Chairman Price is a member of several prominent congressional medical caucuses including the GOP Doctors Caucus, Congressional Health Care Caucus, Congressional Diabetes Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease and Congressional Medical Technology Caucus. Further, he is the honorary co-chair of the Ad Hoc Steering Committee on Telemedicine and Healthcare Informatics.
Chairman Price holds a bachelor’s and an medical degree from the University of Michigan and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Emory University.
ACA Repeal and Replace
Chairman Price is a longtime, outspoken critic of the ACA and has taken a leadership role in the House of Representatives’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.
Better Way Proposal:
In 2016, Budget Committee Chairman Price helped develop House Speaker Paul Ryan’s A Better Way proposal on healthcare with the three other chairs of committees with jurisdiction over federal healthcare programs. These members included House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). Importantly, the A Better Way proposal is likely to serve as a blueprint for ACA replacement policies, specifically calling for the expanded use of health savings accounts (HSAs); portability of insurance policies across state lines; federal funding for high-risk pools; a refundable age-adjusted tax credit to purchase insurance; and either Medicaid block grants or per capita caps.
In late 2015, Chairman Price spearheaded the House Republican effort to repeal the ACA through budget reconciliation (HR 3762). This reconciliation bill, approved by Congress but vetoed by President Obama, would have repealed major ACA provisions. These provisions included the individual and employer mandates; the Medicaid expansion; health insurance premium subsidies and cost-sharing reductions; and certain ACA taxes, including the manufacturers excise tax, “Cadillac tax” and medical device tax.
In 2017, budget reconciliation will be a key tool to repeal the ACA. Reconciliation is an expedited process that allows the Congress to consider certain tax, spending and debt legislation with limited amendments. Importantly, Senate Republicans will only need 51 votes to pass a repeal bill through the reconciliation process.
HR 2300: The Empowering Patients First Act:
In addition to co-leading the A Better Way proposal, Chairman Price authored ACA repeal-and-replace legislation in 2015, namely HR 2300: The Empowering Patients First Act. The legislation largely mirrors provisions in the 2015 budget reconciliation bill and Speaker Ryan’s A Better Way proposal:
- Health Insurance Tax Credits: Provides a refundable, age-adjusted tax credit for persons purchasing health insurance policies in the individual market. The credits range from $1,200 to $3,000 depending on the individual’s age. Individuals also may opt-out of Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and purchase private health insurance with tax credits.
- HSAs: Expands access to HSAs in several ways such as providing a one-time $1,000 tax credit to incentivize HSA use as well as modifying HSA roll-over and catch-up contribution rules.
- Portability: Provides specific proposals to facilitate the portability of insurance policies across state lines.
- High-risk Pools: Provides funding to states for high-risk pools for three years. States would be required to offer competing plans, including at least one option with an HSA.
- Medicaid: HR 2300 does not provide a specific proposal for Medicaid reform.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which will assist in vetting Chairman Price, may hold a hearing on Chairman Price’s nomination on Jan. 18, 2017. The Senate Finance Committee is likely to consider Chairman Price’s nomination in January 2017 as well.
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