Trump Picks Vocal Obamacare Critic Tom Price As HHS Secretary

Tyler Durden's picture

In a choice that confirms Trump's intentions to dismantle Obamacare, Reuters reports that President-elect Donald Trump will shortly announce he has chosen vociferous Obamacare critic Tom Price (R. Ga), an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, as his Health and Human Services secretary to help him overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price

“Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity,” Trump said in a statement. “He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

Price, who currently leads the House Budget Committee, has spent more than a decade in Congress and has become a close ally of GOP leadership. As a member of the House GOP Doctor’s Caucus, Price helped shape the healthcare plan that House Speaker Paul Ryan now pitches as his alternative to ObamaCare. Trump also slected consultant Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a powerful agency that oversees government health programs and insurance standards.

Price is a vocal critic of ObamaCare and he brings a deep background in health legislation. In 2014 as the law faced a major challenge at the Supreme Court, Price authored his own plan to replace the law.

"I am humbled by the incredible challenges that lay ahead and enthusiastic for the opportunity to be a part of solving them on behalf of the American people," Price said in the Tuesday morning statement. "There is much work to be done to ensure we have a healthcare system that works for patients, families, and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit."

Trump is expected to cast Price and Verma as a "dream team" to help him once he takes office on Jan. 20 with his campaign pledge to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health law, the Affordable Care Act that is better known as Obamacare. Trump has said he will replace Obamacare with a plan to give states more control over the Medicaid health plan for the poor and allow insurers to sell plans nationally. Both positions require Senate confirmation and the Trump administration will need to have agreement from Congress to repeal and replace the health law.

Price, an early Trump supporter from the U.S. House of Representatives, has long championed a plan of tax credits, expanded health savings accounts, and lawsuit reforms to replace Obamacare. Verma worked with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, on a compromise to expand Medicaid coverage for the state's poor with federal funding. The Indiana program requires beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to health savings accounts.

Price also supports an idea backed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to shift Medicare to rely more on private insurance. The government would provide financial assistance to help people afford private plans, or the current government-run option.  Republicans say this would save the government money, while Democrats warn it would "end Medicare as we know it" and erode the guarantee of care for seniors.

Price campaigned with Trump because he promised to overhaul Obamacare. However, Trump's position on the health insurance program appeared to soften after he met Obama following the hard-fought Nov. 8 election.

Obama has acknowledged the law could use improvements but has credited Obamacare with cutting the number of uninsured Americans from 49 million in 2010 to 29 million in 2015. Much of that drop is due to the law's provision allowing states to expand Medicaid.

Trump said he would consider keeping provisions in the law that let parents keep adult children up to age 26 on insurance policies and bar insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

According to Reuters, Price and Verma are two of about 70 people who Trump has met so far as he looks to shape his White House and Cabinet team.

In addition to Price, Trump is expected to reveal an additional Cabinet pick on Tuesday, but is not expected to announce his choices for the three biggest positions - state, defense and treasury - as he continues to consider his options.

After seeing retired general David Petraeus on Monday - a potential candidate for the State Department or the Pentagon - Trump is expected to meet U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, and later have dinner with Mitt Romney. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, and Corker are in the running for secretary of state, along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Robert Trip's picture

Elizabeth Warren for AG and now this clown?

I'm losing confidence fast.

TheSecondLaw's picture

You can save yourself a lot of disappointment by never having any confidence in any poltician. Ever.

lil dirtball's picture

"... repeal and replace... ."

Don't worry - the new version will keep the .gov and insurance companies intact. No one wants to chop them out of the income stream. Besides, the new version is compliments of Paul Ryan, who has never been anything other than a politician. A real expert at this sort of stuff.

new game's picture

medical care has roughly doubled in price-since 08. what part of third party payee don't anybody understand?

no market, by law, to insure(lol), we are fucked. yup, insurance lobbists are out in force and will be contributing via insurance companies for the next election cycle. yup market based to the highest donator...

swmnguy's picture

This guy Price's plan is total self-dealing nonsense.  

Tax Credits only help people who 1) have the cash to pay for care now and 2) have tax liability at the end of the year.  People who don't need help, in other words.

Health Savings Accounts?  I've had one since right after they were launched.  It would be great if the IRS would finish writing the rules, and address simple, common situations familes find themselves in.  Like, for instance, suppose a Mom's job provides a very generous employee insurance benefit, but no employer subsidy at all for the family benefit, so the Dad buys a policy for himself and their 2 teenaged kids direct from an insurance company.  They aren't eligible for any of the tax credits or premium subsidies from .gov because the Mom's employer offers family coverage, even though if they took it Mom wouldn't get a paycheck.  HSA rules don't define what happens in this scenario.  The Dad has heard that he has to follow the Individual rules and limits for the insurance and the HSA because the Mom's employer does offer coverage.  He's heard he can't make contributions, or withdrawals, or claim tax benefits for the HSA, also.  But nobody can point out the rule that says so.  It's one of those things designed to help the middle class, so Congress and the IRS didn't even care enough to finish writing the rules.

Limitations on lawsuits?  Maybe getting rid of the malpractice would be better than eliminating the consequences and responsibility for hurting patients.  

The AMA and the insurance industry agree that all litigation costs total less than 1/2 of 1% of healthcare costs in America.  Indeed, the cost of Malpractice dwarfs the costs of litigation, because most people can't afford to take a case to court.  While the awards when an obstetrician screws up and a newborn baby is disabled for life are very high, the real issue is that doctors themselves refuse to allow measures that limit malpractice.  They cling to the insane duty cycles where doctors are awake for days, out of some sense of tradition and toughness, and that causes mistakes.  They refuse to use surgical checklists to make sure they have they don't leave instruments and supplies inside patients, even though such checklists have caused such errors to plunge when used, and the error rates go right back up when the checklists are discontinued.  It insults the pride of the surgeons, so it's worth it to them to injure, maim and even kill patients rather than be insulted.

The problem with healthcare and health insurance coverage in America is that the two are NOT the same (sorry Liberals), and that they're both more expensive than a critical mass of Americans and their employers can afford to pay.  This bullshit nibbling around the edges benefits those who are already doing very well from the current system, but does nothing to head off the collapse that will come in the next financial crisis.

Abaco's picture

Repeal Obamacare. Pass new law allowing the selling of insurance across state lines. Eliminate employer deductibility.  Problem soved.

MachoMan's picture

The simpler solution would be to simply go to self pay...  Plenty of medical service providers would go broke and 1/4 of the economy would crash, but medical services would continue to be provided, albeit at a much lower general price point.

PS, don't forget pharma/medicine in your solution.  We like generics...  and you might not need a prescription to get cold medicine...

smithcreek's picture

So, how much are they paying you to post this crap?  You know, you will eventually need a real job to move out of mom's basement?

Bob's picture

Just reading through and found this very well-considered analysis.  Went to upvote and see:  Damn, it's you again, swmnguy. 

You do some nice work around here, very appreciated.  You can take a lot of shit for saying the unpopular, but when it has to be said you don't flinch. 

That's a very important--hell, essential--role to play in any community that aspires to a reasonable standard for sanity. 

smithcreek's picture

Bullshit.  It's regurgitated lies from the left.  Lots of paid shills around here today.

philipat's picture

The cost of malpractise litigation may be small but the cost of malpractise insurance can run into 100's of thousands for some specialties, surgery for instance. Also, the impact on the way medicine is practised has great impact on costs because physicians could use limited tests and generic drugs for instance but don't because of the fear of malpractise actions. All of this gets built into costs.

The US Fee for Service model has not been able to control costs anywhere in the world. The dirty little secret of Big Pharma is that it makes 80%+ of ALL its global profits in the US, alrgely because private insurance is widespread AND because there are no controls on how much drug companies can charge. There have been some high profile examples of this in recent years.

The insurers and providers (hospitals etc) have no real control on their costs either because medicine is not something where a true marketplace exists and people do not "shop around". In any event, there is very little real competition anyway. Sorry to point this out also but how many poor physicians do you know? In fact, 17% of the top 1% are physicians.

You must find a way to place effective controls over these costs in a private setting or you need to implement a single-payer system to do it for you. Unpopular I know, in some part due to propoganda from all of the above, but there are some very good single-payer systems; Australia, France, Germany to name a few. Canada and the UK are pretty good in emergency situations, which is increasingly what insurnace actually covers, even then often with high deductibles. Medical Savings Accounts have also worked very well in some countries, Singapore being a good example.

Something has to give because most Middle Class families can no longer afford insurance and the whole system will collapse unless dramatic reforms are undertaken quickly.

MachoMan's picture

The cost of malpractise litigation may be small but the cost of malpractise insurance can run into 100's of thousands for some specialties, surgery for instance. Also, the impact on the way medicine is practised has great impact on costs because physicians could use limited tests and generic drugs for instance but don't because of the fear of malpractise actions. All of this gets built into costs.

Nonsense.  The medical industry has to use fraudulent billing (unnecessary tests, procedures, etc.) in order to keep up with large capital/infrastructure costs, administrator pay, and ultimately, the Joneses.  Let's have an experiment: each and every procedure that a doctor identifies as "born from an abundance of caution and fear from litigation" would require the profits generated from said procedure to be sent back to Uncle Sam.  How often do you think the procedures would be flagged?  My money is on few to none (although, there will still be incentive to operate at cost, just to keep the lights on and to allegedly mitigate malpractice, despite the fact that it's more of a ghost story than anything...  this could be limited through further constraints on the experiment that I do not have time to flesh out at the moment).  The truth is that patients are tapped out and can't pay for the services, so medical service providers are turning to the deepest pockets they can find in an attempt to stay afloat.

I think a better solution would be to cut the legs out of the insurance industry and require them to actually conduct due diligence and investigation into billing practices...  conduct some audits and actually do some real claw backs.  At this point, with the ACA, they're just raising premiums to account for fraudulent billing.  Every once and a while, I hear about a large clawback, but for the most part I think they're just raising rates to compensate.  Further, of the large clawbacks we tend to hear about, they're initiated by whistleblowers, not independent audits. 

Bob's picture

What do you think about qui tam suits under the False Claims Act, Counselor? 

I'm looking at a change in professions . . .

MachoMan's picture

They've finally started paying out consistently...  The real assholes build their practice for a few decades and then sell out their clients to uncle sam once the commission gets big enough.  This is starting to be en vogue...  Practically speaking, I think it makes a helluva lot more sense to pay out whistleblowers than keep a huge bureaucracy of investigators.

If the SCOTUS would apply FFCA to the states, then I'll retire a rich man.  Why the hell you would interpret the law to apply to individuals who steal from the government, but not the states is beyond me.  Until that day, I'll grind it out taking whatever walks through the door.

If you're looking to be a lawyer, then find something else...  Just find a saul goodman and walk him through your qui tam suits...  he can be the one that wears concrete shoes when you actually catch a good case.

Bob's picture

My question may have been seeking direction.  What would the sweetest, fattest targets be and where best to find Saul?  I can switch into a lot of jobs, that would be a worthy motive to guide my efforts. 

RiverRoad's picture

Re the magnitude of malpractice insurance cost presently being built into doctors' fees and hospitalization charges:  The size of the awards is ridiculous with lawyers walking off with most of the money.  The bigger the awards, the higher the insurance costs.  The end result being very much like the sweetheart deal with banks and higher educational institutions:  the higher the tuitions, the bigger the loans.....

A long look should also be taken at the million dollar plus salaries of hospital administrators which have shot up way out of proportion in the past decade.  They've come to think they're CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.  It will be interesting to see where Price finds the savings:  No one knows better where the rip-offs are than doctors do.  It will definitely take an insider to right this ship.


BTW    Nice to be reading more articles by Tyler himself.  The best ones, IMO.

MachoMan's picture

Re the magnitude of malpractice insurance cost presently being built into doctors' fees and hospitalization charges:  The size of the awards is ridiculous with lawyers walking off with most of the money.  The bigger the awards, the higher the insurance costs.  The end result being very much like the sweetheart deal with banks and higher educational institutions:  the higher the tuitions, the bigger the loans.....

First, lawyers tend to not get any more than the patient, often times by ethical code or law.  In many instances, the insurance company gets 1/3, lawyer 1/3, and patient 1/3.  See generally, subrogation.

Second, if you were just told that the size of malpractice awards is less than half of one percent, but that malpractice premiums continue to increase (along with medical services), then shouldn't that draw some red flags?  Something internally tells you that there is bullshit somewhere?  The truth is that the insurance companies need the litigation bogeyman to sell insurance...

Here's an interesting question, and I don't want to spoil the surprise, where "tort reform" has passed, what has happened to malpractice premiums?  What would you think would happen?  What did states do to limit any rise in premiums after giving a windfall to the insurance companies (remember, insurance is a highly regulated industry)?  The answer to all of this should point you in the right direction...

Bob's picture

People's brains get shorted out by their hate for lawyers.  Especially when those hated lawyers are put up against the vultures in white coats, our beloved Doctors. 

azusgm's picture

Surgical checklists? I'm an old registered nurse who spent most of my years in obstetrics. We counted everything used in cesarean sections. Everything. Every insrument. Every towel. Every sponge. Every needle. And the cord clamp and bulb syringe. The only thing we didn't count was the sterile baby blanket.

I circulated on my last cesarean section in 2001.

Bob's picture

I recently had a second surgery to remove a stubbornly ingrown granuloma from the last knuckle on my index finger.  The first time I had to revisit the plastic surgeon specializing in hand reconstruction (just coincidental that I was referred to someone so seemingly overqualified) three times to get all the sutures--around 7 or 8--out.  By that time, a new granuloma had formed--most likely from the extended time for removal of the sutures from sensitive tissues.

The second surgery removed a great deal of tissue.  When I went for my 3 week follow-up for suture removal, I asked how many sutures he had put in.  He looked at me like I had said something crazy for a second, then shook his head and scoffed "I don't count those,"  with an attitude suggesting counting sutures was something that only amateurs do. 

Finally, 3 months later (yeah, as soon as the sutures were removed it opened into a gaping wound) the skin has fully closed . . . but what do my eyes behold just under the skin beneath some new localized swelling?  Yeah, it looks clearly like a . . . you got it . . . a suture. And a new granuloma.  In addition to the end of my finger now being bent about 10 degrees off where it should be.

If neither counting nor recording the number of sutures you place is not malpractice---especially when you can't remember to get them all out--then I'm wondering why subsequent doctors I told about it really just don't believe my story.  What could be more basic than counting your sutures and recording them in the chart?

The surgeon's online reviews are a littany of horror stories of people who nearly died from more extensive procedures.  Seeded with about an equal number of glowing reviews clearly written by his office staff, resulting in a 3 star (out of 5) average rating. 

Lots of people have personal stories like this.  Did I mention that for my second surgery, the motherfuckers were going to nerve block the wrong arm and were marking up the wrong finger??

There is a whole lotta malpractice going on.  Congrats for your experience working with crews who practiced with professional precision, azusgm.

MachoMan's picture

The system is too complicated for its practitioners.  Just like undergrad colleges, grad schools need to keep the lights on and push through graduates.  When I can diagnose myself over the internet as good or better than most GPs (and more quickly and without getting more sick walking through all the other sick people), then something is wrong...  either they need to get paid less or we need to have more autonomy to self medicate...

The real malpractice isn't on the doctors though, usually (although there are many Dr. Nicks out there) it's the support staff...  wrong IV hookup (my grandpa nearly bled out during the night), failed to count during surgery, letting patients choke to death on food, failure to provide medication, bad janitorial services leading to germs, etc.  Basically, the people making $10-15/hr can screw up just as badly and are every bit as intricate to patient care as the actual professionals.

rustycat's picture

Nicely reasoned and stated.

I've been an avid reader of Zero Hedge since its first days.  I've always valued it above  all other news outlets.  But, the trash that gets thrown against the wall by the brain dead knee jerk posters is sickening.  Where did all these trash posters crawl out from?  Hopefully another site will become more cool to post on and they'll migrate to it.



Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) new game Nov 29, 2016 8:02 AM


Make 75K no subsidy.

Myself and spouse, $2000 per month.

75K tax 30% 22k=53 left, 24K for health insurance leaves 29K per year for two working people to live on in San Francisco.

really Barry? median rent in SF is 36K per year, outside the city its 25K per year.

Can you get food stamps because you have only $333 per month to get to work, eat, utilities, dress yourself.


thinkmoretalkless's picture

Similar situation. Goal in life was to be debt free by 55. Now my monthly "healthcare" premium is the largest monthly payment I ever had. Monthly proportion of local property taxes a close second. Both are payments I have no control over. They look to collar as many people they can in relentless payments....ask any idiot with a student loan.

WillyGroper's picture

that would shirley sign his death warrant by the rottenfelter kriminal ama.

wildbad's picture

Obama critic..umm a good start

tarsubil's picture


<-- You don't like closet case faggots from congress

<-- You like closet case faggots from congress


Corrupt southern douche bag closet case.

Man, too bad I didn't vote for Trump otherwise I could have felt disillusioned right now.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Now you are losing confidence?!?!?!




Free John Corzine!!!!


Oh wait, nevermind...

the world should have lost confidence in the dollar in 1971!!!!!

tarsubil's picture

I guess we all run at our own pace. Some people walk. Some people stop to get donuts.

de3de8's picture

I want to see how this squares with the insurance and pharma industries.

swmnguy's picture

They'll be just fine with it.  Price's history is of giving them exactly what they want, and none of what they don't want.

new game's picture

enemas are free courtesy of up the ars...

one way or another, bend over and comply.

i'm with da gov and i'm here to check you ars for rectal expansion...

Fathead Slim's picture
Fathead Slim (not verified) Nov 29, 2016 7:28 AM

This is like polishing a turd. How does it become the business of government to fuck with medical care? Why should the system of medical care belong to the federal government?

Ghordius's picture

well, a fitting name, Price. then the biggest problem I see in the US Healthcare quagmire is exactly there: prices

as in "too high" compared... well to every and each other country on this planet. way more

as a reminder, ObamaCare took the Swiss model... and made it even more complicated. that's the second most expensive model worldwide, and it's based on the Swiss Gov kicking insurers (that's Big Biz) on behalf of customers (that's people) in exactly this point: prices. The model functions... only if you have some socialists and social democrats in gov and they are honest and they are willing to put themselves in the lines of BigBiz's fire on behalf of the citizens, particularly the poor. In Switzerland... it functions

what is the cheapest model, so far? damn, that is even more socialistic or national-socialistic: the British National Health Service, for example. A "single-payer" universal system, whereas the "single-payer" is the state, with tax money

now, if you go to the UK, beware: don't ever denigrate the NHS (

it is the "Holy Cow" of British politics. Britons might moan about it the whole day, but they are also willing to defend it to the hilt. In fact, a lot of British politics goes around "how much for the NHS". Total cost is around 10% of GDP, btw. That's a fraction of the US

Nunyadambizness's picture

AND causes long wait times for needed surgeries, delays and apportionments of medicines and services, etc.  The government has NO business trying to legislate healthcare.  Leave it to the marketplace.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Please.  Talking about "prices" in the absence of true price discovery is a fool's errand.

JRev's picture

True price discovery would mean no mandated insurance, no FDA, no HHS, Medicare, Medicaid, no heavily subsidized pharmaceutical research facilities masquerading as "Universities"...

...well, it'd mean getting rid of quite a few "invisible hands." 

chimchim's picture

So are you saying that the soc. Brit system is the way to go? This seams like a "grayish" overview of the whole cluster. Are you endorsing socialism or real markets?

brushhog's picture

I was never completely against the concept of Obamacare, the biggest issue I have is with it not being voluntary. I cant see how the supreme court allowed us to be forced to buy a product from a private vendor. There's no way that is within the scope of government authority. As it is, Obamacare is an outrage for that reason alone.

Pigeon's picture

There is no way that any government run "health care" is "within the scope of govt authority". Period. But hey, the Constitution is a "living breathing document" so helpfully open to whatever whim those POS' in DC want now, isn't it?

Cardinal Fang's picture

The Sec of HHS is the most powerful person in DC under current law. More powerful than the President who can't just nuke you. The HHS can render you dead with the stroke of a pen.

Once this guy Price gets his hands on it, it will be like Gollum and the ring. It will be his'Precious'...

It should be fun to watch the clusterfuck over health care again.

Hail Spode's picture

It says he helped with Ryan's plan. The Medicaid part of Ryan's plan sounds just like the plan Arkansas Republicans imposed on the state after getting elected by promising to "end Obamacare." They changed the name, and they cut the insurance industry in on the loot but they did not change the ultimate nature of the plan. They just made it more expensive by sticking a facade of private insurance in front of Medicaid expansion. First they called it the "private option" when they worked with a Democrat Governor to impose it. Then a Republican Governor was elected- maybe some folks thought he would quit taking the federal dollars stolen from the next generation. Nope. He just changed the name to "Arkansas Works" and added a "work or seek work" requirement. Because doing all of that is inheriently more expensive than just expanding Medicaid, massive welfare fraud was necessary to prop up the system. Read about it here....

Last of the Middle Class's picture

I've got an idea. How about putting constraints on the Insurance and Pharma industries as to what they must cover then go after Pharma for it's 1000% price increases (not an overstatement) and then protect the consumer and void all contracts among all three that in any way limits competition and lower prices. And don't forget the box store drug industry that does everything possible to limit competition. Sounds like a plan to me.

smithcreek's picture

Yes, more government is always the answer.

sleigher's picture

If they remove the individual mandate and open competition across state borders we will be working with something.  Aren't those the items Trump said he would be implementing?  That would be better than what we have right now.  I wouldn't bet on repeal / replace.

SilentBull's picture

You can't eliminate the mandate without eliminating 'pre-existing conditions'. That's the real problem with Obamacare.

azusgm's picture

How about bringing the FDA into the crosshairs?

RadioFlyer's picture
RadioFlyer (not verified) Nov 29, 2016 7:47 AM

Anyone watching the road to Cankle's Chappequa house to see who she is appointing for her cabinet?


You don't think the Bitch is dead do you? 

Arnold's picture

Binge drinking and drugging.

Fortunately, not driving.