President Elect Donald Trump Nominates Rep. Tom Price as HHS Secretary

Question: What is the likely outcome if Dr. Price’s nomination is confirmed?

Answer: Thomas Edmunds (“Tom”) Price is a Republican Congressman representing Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, having served in the House since 2005. He is an orthopedic surgeon and currently serves as the Chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee and is also a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and its Health Subcommittee. He has just been nominated by the President-Elect, Donald Trump, to serve in the Cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). Of course, whether he ultimately occupies this position must await the Presidential Inauguration in January, 2017 and his approval and appointment by the Senate.

Assuming Dr. Price’s nomination is approved by the Senate and he is appointed as Secretary of HHS, he will be charged with, among other things, carrying out the new administration’s policies regarding health issues. A big question is, of course, will the President-Elect carry through with his campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and if he does, what, if anything, will be put in its place?

A possible indication may come from the fact that, during his tenure in the House, Dr. Price has been a staunch critic of Obamacare. Indeed, he put forward his own plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, called the “Empowering Patients First Act,” which includes age-adjusted tax credits to help people buy insurance, as well as increased reliance upon health savings accounts and high-risk pools at the state level, and would allow people to opt out of Medicare, Medicaid or VA benefits and receive tax credits to buy individual plans. Critics say this plan will not keep pace with inflation and will result in higher deductibles and co-payments (however, higher deductibles and co-payments have also recently been attributed to the Affordable Care Act, as well).

While in the House, Dr. Price voted in favor of MACRA, although he has since voiced some criticism regarding the manner in which the legislation is being implemented. He has also been in favor of continuing bipartisan efforts to move away from fee-for-service based payments in favor of so-called value-based payment models.
Weekly Charting Tip:

The Disgruntled FORMER Employee. These are 3 words that you, as a physician, never want to hear in the same sentence. In a case attorneys call a qui tam action, such a former employee might make a lot of money by “ratting you out” for a percentage of what the government recovers. Just recently, on Long Island, a very large radiology practice had to return a total of over 10.5 million dollars in what the government felt was fraudulent billing. It is very important to attempt to keep you employees happy. If you have to let one go, attempt to do it in a palatable way; a word to the wise!

-  Larry Kobak

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