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Trump Chooses Rep. Tom Price, An Obamacare Foe, To Run HHS

Rep. Tom Price (center) appeared in early 2016 before the House Rules Committee, when he sponsored legislation that would repeal President Obama's signature health care law.
J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Tom Price (center) appeared in early 2016 before the House Rules Committee, when he sponsored legislation that would repeal President Obama's signature health care law.

Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is currently chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon for nearly 20 years before coming to Congress, has represented the northern Atlanta suburbs in the House of Representatives since 2005.

If confirmed by the Senate, Price would likely have a central role in the Republicans' stated plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and design a replacement. He has repeatedly introduced legislation to repeal and replace the ACA and is one of hundreds of Republicans who have voted dozens of times to repeal the federal health care law since it was enacted in 2010. Those efforts either didn't make it to President Obama's desk or were vetoed by him.

As HHS secretary, Price would not only oversee Obamacare as it currently exists, but also run the government's largest social programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. He would also have authority over the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other major health agencies.

HHS employs nearly 80,000 people and is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.

Politically, Price is conservative. He opposes abortion rights, receiving a 2016 rating of 0 by Planned Parenthood and 100 percent by National Right to Life. He has voted against legislation aimed at prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation; for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman; and against the bill that would've ended the don't-ask-don't-tell policy regarding disclosure of sexual orientation in the military.

He has also voted against:

  • federal funding for abortion;
  • funding for groups like Planned Parenthood;
  • a law that now requires the FDA to regulate tobacco as a drug; and
  • a bill that would have provided four weeks of parental leave for federal employees.
  • In 2007, Price voted in favor of a bill that would have granted the so-called pre-born equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

    In 2015, Price wrote the language for a bill that is now seen as one of the main paths forward to repeal portions of the ACA. It would employ the same budget reconciliation rules Democrats used to originally pass the law in 2010, but instead the GOP plan would defund Obamacare.

    This reconciliation option would leave in place the basic structure of the ACA, including the insurance exchanges and rules that require insurers to cover existing conditions and permit young adults to stay on their parents' insurance policies until age 26.

    But without funding, the exchanges are likely to see an exodus of insurance companies, particularly if expensive requirements are kept in place.

    Price, 62, lives in Roswell, Ga., with his wife Betty. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan.

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    Joe Neel is NPR's deputy senior supervising editor and a correspondent on the Science Desk.
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