The Price Is Right! Trump’s Choice of Health Secretary Indicates Push to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

30216439 - hand writing obamacare on a white boardDonald Trump’s choice of Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-GA) as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services indicates the Trump administration will make a serious effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered health reform.

After some initial signs of hesitation to try to achieve this six-year old campaign promise, Obamacare’s opponents can now be confident that skilled leadership will wage a sophisticated and likely successful effort to restart health reform. Here are four reasons why:

  1. Price is a physician, an orthopedic surgeon by specialty. One reason he entered politics was his own experience dealing with the increasing burden of insurance and government bureaucracy.
  2. Price is Chairman of the House Budget Committee. He knows how to deal with Congress. More importantly, he knows the ins and outs of “reconciliation,” the parliamentary procedure which allowed Congress to get an Obamacare repeal bill (H.R. 3762) to President Obama’s desk last year. Reconciliation is a procedure that allows a bill to bypass a Senate filibuster. In the current lame-duck session, Dr. Price has continued to champion reconciliation as the way to keep momentum on repealing and replacing Obamacare.
  3. Under his chairmanship, the House Budget Committee led the House and Senate to agree on a concurrent budget resolution for FY 2016, the first in six years! If President Obama had cooperated, this would have re-instituted businesslike budgeting for the U.S. government. A post-Obamacare health reform will likely include significant changes to how the U.S. government will finance and subsidize access to health care. Dr. Price’s experience will allow him to discuss the options thoroughly with the Treasury Secretary and other members of the cabinet who will be involved, as well as a cooperative Congress.
  4. Price first introduced his own health reform bill in 2009 and has re-introduced and improved it in every Congress since. He knows how to negotiate health reform legislation with his congressional colleagues, an experience which will serve him well in the Trump administration.

The choice of Dr. Price to lead the U.S. Department of Health & Services should make proponents of health care that puts patients and doctors – not politicians and bureaucrats – in charge of our health care very optimistic about positive change in 2017.

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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, see Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis and A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman, published by Independent Institute.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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