Trump Picks Obamacare Enemy for Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump has chosen a leading critic of the federal health care law as his secretary of Health and Human Services.

Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, has introduced bills in each of the past four Congresses that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a combination of health-savings accounts and tax credits.

Price’s bill, dubbed the Empowering Patients First Act, never made it out of committee.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, is a six-term congressman. He also served four terms in the Georgia state Senate.

Democrats in the Senate blasted Trump’s pick, saying Price is extreme on issues of health care reform and the privatization of Medicare.

“I was just so disappointed to see the president-elect nominate Congressman Price to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services this morning,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday. “When it comes to issues like Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, Congressman Price and the average American couldn’t be farther apart.”

Schumer called it “possible” that Democrats will find a way to block Price’s nomination when it comes forward in the next Congress.

If that’s not possible, though, Schumer insisted Democrats would provide stiff opposition to Republican efforts to privatize Medicare.

“We say to our Republicans who want to privatize Medicare: ‘Go try it, make our day,” Schumer said.

In a statement on the nomination Tuesday, Trump hailed Price as “a renowned physician,” with “a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on health care policy.”

Price “is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American,” Trump added.

Trump promised throughout his campaign to dismantle Obamacare, though his promise to repeal it was notably absent from a video his transition team released last week that outlined his plans for his first 100 days in office.

Price’s appointment undermines the president-elect’s comments this month to The Wall Street Journal that he might be willing to keep parts of the law.

The Department of Health and Human Services is tasked with overseeing public health initiatives, including programs like Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid. Its operating budget was more than $1.1 trillion in 2016, spending most of its money on Medicare and Medicaid.”

Price’s appointment — which the Washington Post reported is likely to become official Tuesday — is Trump’s first since Friday. After Thanksgiving, the president-elect named K.T. McFarland as deputy national security adviser and Donald McGahn as White House counsel.

Trump’s finalists for secretary of state have been said to include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

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