Here’s What You Need to Know About the New Health Secretary and How He’ll Affect Your Industry

 

With the inauguration behind us, it’s time to look to what the next four years could mean for not only ourselves and our families, but the industry we work in. The health and wellness industry could see some drastic changes as news hits that Trump has officially appointed Tom Price as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

 

What does the Secretary of Health and Human Services do anyway?

The Department of Health and Human Services is, as their departmental website states, “the U.S. government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.”

They’re responsible for the oversight of many activities, chief among them: Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Marketplace. In addition, they monitor “almost a quarter of all federal outlays,” and “administer more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined.”

The Secretary of HHS is responsible for the oversight and acts as the spokesperson for the sector.

 

Who is Tom Price, and where did he come from?

In a statement issued by the American Medical Association – the nation’s largest association of physicians and medical students – in November, they affirm their support of the then-nomination, citing many reasons.

“The American Medical Association strongly supports the nomination of Dr. Tom Price… His service as a physician, state legislator and member of the U.S. Congress provides a depth of experience to lead HHS.

For nearly twenty years before his debut as a politician, Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon. He also worked as an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine (his alma mater), and as the Medical Director of the Orthopedic Clinic at a hospital in Atlanta, training resident doctors-in-training.

“Dr. Price has been a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions as well as reduce excessive regulatory burdens that diminish time devoted to patient care and increase costs” the AMA’s statement continues.

Rep. Price made his entrance into politics (and the Republican party) when he was elected to represent Georgia’s 6th district in November 2004, and has served many different roles since. During his time as part of Georgia’s State Senate, he held the ‘minority whip’ position in his party. A whip’s job is to ensure individual members follow suit with their official party policies, and make certain all members of the party are in attendance for important votes. Overall, a significant member of the party (one which often requires a commanding personality).

 

What are his plans for my industry?

One of the most prominent factors of Price’s appointment to Trump’s administration was his stance on Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act). Price is an ardent force who has opposed Obamacare since its conception back in 2009, and has been working to put together an alternative plan for the past six years.

Shortly after Mr. Obama signed the bill in 2010, Price was one of the first to speak in opposition, boldly stating, “Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration blatantly ignored the voices of the American people and rammed through a hyperpartisan piece of legislation that will have a disastrous effect on our nation’s health care system.” More recently, he commented on the results of Obamacare has reaped, citing that premiums have gone up and many Americans lost health coverage they were told “time and time again by the President” they could keep.

Price’s counter-plan is called the Empowering Patients First Act and aims to offer age-adjusted tax credits for purchase, an opportunity to contribute monthly to ‘health savings accounts’, and to subsidize insurance for those in the ‘high-risk’ bracket.

During his time in office, he’s also contributed to the passing of a number of other bills in the health care sector and beyond. Most notably, the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016 which allowed the Secretary of Veteran Affairs to implement a “patient self-scheduling appointment system.”

He was also a part of the Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Act, and oddly enough, bills passed to instate a ton of commemorative coins.

Although the repeal of the Affordable Care Act may be at the top of Price’s priorities as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, he also has strong stances on other health care industry hot topics.

Here’s a peek at his voting record in the Senate:

  • Voted NO on regulating tobacco as a drug. (Apr 2009)
  • Voted NO on expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Jan 2009)
  • Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare. (Jul 2008)
  • Voted NO on giving mental health full equity with physical health. (Mar 2008)
  • Voted YES on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay.

 

For more details on his voting history, head here.

 

*Img via Tom Price’s Twitter