Health Reform WK-EDGE Trump selects Price, Verma to helm HHS and CMS in new administration
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Trump selects Price, Verma to helm HHS and CMS in new administration

By Anthony H. Nguyen, J.D.

President-elect Donald Trump (R) will nominate Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) to be HHS Secretary and Seema Verma, who helped craft Indiana's conservative Medicaid expansion, to lead CMS. In nominating Price, President-elect Trump is taking action to carry out his campaign promises of repealing or dismantling parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). Price, an orthopedic surgeon, currently is the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. Price has been a staunch critic of the ACA and had been one of the first Republicans to offer a counter to President Obama’s landmark health care program in the form of the Empowering Patients First Act.

Price’s plan would use age-adjusted tax credits to help people buy insurance as well as increased reliance on health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-risk pools at the state level. It would also allow people to opt out of Medicare, Medicaid, or Veterans Affairs benefits and receive the tax credit to buy an individual plan. Price appears to favor continuing bipartisan efforts to move away from fee-for-service reimbursement and focus on paying for the value and quality of care.

Verma, a consultant, worked with Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R), the governor of Indiana, on Healthy Indiana 2.0, a Medicaid program that requires monthly contributions to HSAs. Verma has worked extensively on a variety of policy and strategic projects involving Medicaid, insurance, and public health, working with various state and federal entities, as well as section 1115 waivers for Medicaid expansion in a number of states.

Democrats did not respond favorably to the selection of Price for HHS Secretary. "Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood," said incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). However, Senate Democrats lack the power to block the nomination because of a change to filibuster rules implemented when they controlled the Senate that only require a simple majority for confirmation.

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