President-elect Donald Trump made Republicans very happy on Monday when he named Rep. Tom Price as his nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Critics and supporters alike see the choice as a clear signal from Trump that he’s serious about repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Price has made a name for himself as one of the Affordable Care Act’s harshest critics. The former orthopedic surgeon and current Georgia representative has developed a workable Republican alternative to the healthcare law called the Empowering Patients First Act. Price has unsuccessfully introduced the bill in Congress, and it may give us a hint as to what an Obamacare replacement will look like.
Price’s plan uses government provisions like tax breaks to help Americans purchasing individual coverage while allowing even customers who purchase insurance through an employer to take their coverage with them after leaving the company. The EPFA would also give Medicare and Medicaid patients the ability to opt out and use tax credits to go with a private plan.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was pleased with Trump’s choice.
“As a legislator, he has played a leading role in developing conservative health care solutions that put patients first. We could not ask for a better partner to work with Congress to fix our nation’s health care challenges,” Ryan said.
Trump ran on a campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare, but some conservatives have been nervous about comments the president-elect has made in recent weeks. Trump has said there are elements of Obamacare he’d like to keep in place, such as barring insurance companies from rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions. It’s not clear how Trump would keep such provisions without keeping the individual mandate; some are worried that TrumpCare will just be Obamacare with a new coat of paint.
By picking Price to lead the HHS, Trump has set many a Republican mind at ease.