The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Tom Price is Right

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Doctor Tom Price (R-Georgia) to be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his administration.  This is an excellent choice.

Representative Price has been a leader in fighting the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, since it first appeared on the horizon in 2009.  He is also an orthopedic surgeon, so he knows and understands healthcare from the inside.  Currently, he serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and is also on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, two committees that will play powerful roles in repealing and replacing Obamacare.  Having served on these committees will provide invaluable policy bona fides as he takes on his new position as HHS Secretary.

The Budget Committee will be writing the reconciliation legislation, a complicated budgetary procedure, that will be needed to repeal large swaths of Obamacare without the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster.  The Democrats used this procedure to pass H.R. 4872, the “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010,” a companion bill to the ACA.  A brief explanation of how reconciliation was used to pass Obamacare is discussed in Citizens Against Government Waste’s January 2016 WasteWatcher.  In addition, the Ways and Means Committee oversees Medicare and Medicaid and will be a major force in designing new tax policy for any Obamacare replacement plan.

Chairman Price has also served as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus within the House of Representatives, and as Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.  His fiscally conservative credentials (he scored 99 percent in CAGW’s 2015 Congressional Ratings) will go far in protecting our tax dollars and in fighting waste, fraud, and abuse in government-run healthcare programs.

Price has also introduced several bills to replace Obamacare, the most recent being H.R. 2300, the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015.  The bill would, among other things, repeal Obamacare, provide refundable tax credits for health insurance coverage and health savings accounts (HSA), limit the amount of an employer’s contribution to health coverage that can be excluded from the employee’s taxable income, require HHS to provide grants to each state for the creation of high-risk pools to assist people with pre-existing conditions to get access to health insurance, and would return regulation of individual insurance policies back to the states.  Whether Chairman Price’s bill becomes the Obamacare replacement is currently unknown, but many of the provisions have been seen in dozens of Republican initiatives.

But, repealing Obamacare is only half the battle.  The longer, and harder fight, will be unwrapping and eliminating Obamacare’s regulatory structure, and implementing whatever replacement plan that is passed by Congress.  It will take a strong, knowledgeable leader to run HHS’s massive bureaucracy that would oversee implementing the new policies and Dr. Price is the one that can get it done

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