Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has been the tip of the Congressional spear in the battle against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for the past six years.
Today, President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, the agency that over-sees and administers Obamacare. (WaPo)
As HHS secretary, Price would be the incoming administration’s point person for dismantling the sprawling 2010 health-care law, which candidate Trump promised to start dismantling on his first day in the Oval Office. The 62-year-old lawmaker, who represents a wealthy suburban Atlanta district, has played a leading role in the Republican opposition to the law and has helped draft several comprehensive bills to replace it. The GOP-led House has voted five dozen times to eliminate all or part of the ACA but has never had a chance of accomplishing its goal as long as President Obama has been in the White House.
As many Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, wavered in their attitudes towards Trump during his campaign, Price was a devoted foot soldier. In May, he organized a joint statement by nine GOP House committee chairs, pledging loyalty to Trump and calling on “all Americans to support him.”
Price has been far from “all talk and no substance” when it comes to calling to repeal Obamacare. In fact, as Chairman of the Budget Committee Price has proposed various “Repeal and Replace” bills that have stalled with President Obama’s veto pen looming at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
In fact, as recently as May 2015 Price put for the “Empowering Patients First Act” which would have provided more free-market solutions to the skyrocketing costs of health insurance, and health care.
“Under Obamacare, the American people are paying more for health care and getting less – less access, less quality, and fewer choices. The status quo and its defenders are empowering Washington and harming patients and doctors. With real, patient-centered reforms we can build a more innovative and responsive health care system – one that empowers patients and ensures they and their doctor have the freedom to make health care decisions without bureaucratic interference or influence.
“The Empowering Patients First Act puts patients, families and doctors in charge by focusing on the principles of affordability, accessibility, quality, innovation, choices and responsiveness. Those principles form the foundation of the solutions in H.R. 2300 – solutions including individual health pools and expanded health savings accounts, tax credits for the purchase of coverage and lawsuit abuse reforms to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine. The solutions in the Empowering Patients First Act will get Washington out of the way while protecting and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.”
Price is also a medical doctor so he is able to take a lofty, moral high ground and speak on behalf of the doctors as well as the patients who have to suffer under the government constraints imposed on the medical profession.
Last month Price joined two of his colleagues in the House (also doctors) and penned a critique of the Affordable Care Act for Fox News. Price, along with Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) provided a scathing analysis of the broken promises President Obama delivered when selling Obamacare to the American people:
In his 2008 campaign for president, then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama repeatedly promised to cut annual health insurance premiums by $2,500. When he took office in 2009, annual family premiums for employer-provided coverage, the most common of private insurance coverage, cost $13,375 according to Kaiser. In 2016, those premiums are $18,142. That’s an increase of $4,767.
As President Obama worries about his legacy in the hands of President-elect Donald Trump, he should recognize that the fractured health care scheme that bears his name is probably facing a very real existential threat now that an actual doctor is on call.