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Health Care Groups Praise, Condemn New HHS Secretary

Price vows to scrap Affordable Care Act

Reactions from health care industry associations to the confirmation of Tom Price, MD, as head of the Department of Health and Human Services have ranged from praise to dismay, according to a report from HealthLeaders Media. Price took the oath of office, administered by Vice President Mike Pence, on February 10.

Opponents of Price’s nomination focused on his determination to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Another topic at confirmation hearings was the former orthopedic surgeon’s stock trades while he was a member of the House.

The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) praised Price’s confirmation.

“Dr. Price brings to HHS the health care insights of a practicing physician and the policy knowledge he demonstrated as House Budget Committee chairman,” said HLC president Mary R. Grealy. “These are assets that will enable him to begin work immediately enhancing the quality and accessibility of care for all Americans.”

Glowing words also came from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. In a joint statement, the two groups called Price “a staunch advocate for the preservation of the doctor–patient relationship, a fierce protector of private practice, and a stalwart supporter of academic medicine.”

Other health groups offered their congratulations, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry association for commercial health-insurance companies, and America’s Essential Hospitals, a 275-member association of nonprofit hospitals.

On the other hand, Carol Paris, MD, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, called Price’s appointment a “body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans,” adding that his vision for reforming health care would result in millions of Americans losing their health-insurance coverage. She also said that Price could be expected to “undermine” Medicare, Medicaid, and safety-net hospitals.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA), a nonprofit group based in Connecticut, warned that Price will help House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) privatize Medicare.

“It would be tragic if renewed efforts to privatize Medicare succeed in returning the health of older and disabled people to the profit-driven insurance industry,” the CMA said in a statement.

Source: HealthLeaders Media; February 13, 2017.

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