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A Look at the New Administration’s Healthcare Nominees

November 29, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s healthcare nominees are in keeping with his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as to work with Republicans to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid significantly.

Secretary of Health and Human Services

President-elect Trump has named Republican Representative Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price, an early Trump supporter, has long championed a plan of tax credits, expanded health savings accounts and lawsuit reforms to replace the ACA. Regarding Medicare, he has signed on to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” plan, which would raise the age at which Americans become eligible and would give people the option of taking a fixed sum to shop for private coverage under the program.

Price has served since 2015 as chairman of the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee and was a leader in the effort to dismantle the ACA. He is a member of the Doctors Caucus, which has raised concern over the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plan for a new payment system for physicians. The group notes that the plan has the potential to “overcomplicate an already burdensome and complex” system. Price is also an opponent of having Medicare negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers. The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association have both issued statements supporting Price’s nomination.

Price’s confirmation by the Senate as secretary of Health and Human Services would cap a congressional career that began in 2005. He grew up in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan and its medical school, then worked for almost 20 years as a surgeon. In 2009 and 2010, Price was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of the most conservative members in the U.S. House.

CMS Administrator

Trump has selected Seema Verma—currently the president, CEO and founder of SVC, Inc., a national health policy consulting company—to serve as CMS administrator. This position also requires confirmation by the Senate.

Verma, an Indiana resident best known for her work on Medicaid issues, has close ties with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. She designed Indiana’s Medicaid expansion model, known as Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. In this role, she developed enabling legislation, negotiated the financing plan with the state’s hospital association, developed and helped negotiate the federal waiver and supported implementation. In addition to her leadership in Indiana, Verma has extensive experience redesigning Medicaid programs and managed-care initiatives in several states including Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Maine. Prior to consulting, Verma worked for the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Verma participated in the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee report on Medicaid reform and contributed to the development of the 2011 report “A New Medicaid: A Flexible, Innovative and Accountable Future.” Policy solutions recommended in the report include:

  1. States are best able to make decisions about the design of their healthcare systems based on their respective needs, culture and values.
  2. States should have the opportunity to innovate by using flexible, accountable financing mechanisms that are transparent and hold states responsible for efficiency and quality health care.
  3. Medicaid should be focused on quality, value-based purchasing and patient-centered programs that work in concert to improve the health of states’ citizens and drive value over volume, quality over quantity, and, at the same time, contain costs.
  4. States must be able to streamline and simplify the eligibility process to ensure coverage for those most in need, and states must be able to enforce reasonable cost sharing for those able to pay.
  5. States can provide Medicaid recipients a choice in their health care coverage plans, just as many have in the private market, if they are able to leverage the existing insurance marketplace.
  6. Territories must be ensured full integration into the federal healthcare system, so they can provide healthcare coverage to those in need with the flexibility afforded to the states.
  7. States must have greater flexibility in eligibility, financing and service delivery, in order to provide long-term services and support that keep pace with the people Medicaid serves.