FLICKR, GAGE SKIDMOREThe incoming US President has tapped Representative Tom Price (R-GA), an orthopedic surgeon, to serve as the country’s next Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary. In this role, Price would hold the purse strings for medical research funding (namely through the National Institutes of Health), oversee agencies that regulate food and drugs (US Food and Drug Administration), and likely work to implement proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act.
“The practicing physician and the patient could not have a better friend in that office than Tom Price,” Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) told The New York Times. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) disagreed. “Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse,” he told the New York Times.
One of Price’s most significant duties as HHS secretary would be managing budgetary decisions at the NIH, putting him in control of more than $1 trillion in annual biomedical research funding. Price has long opposed embryonic stem cell research, and once told STAT News he was concerned about the potential costs of Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative. On the other hand, Republicans like Price tend to fund biomedical research as well or better than their Democratic counterparts, according to The Atlantic.
Price is a long-time critic of the Affordable Care Act, and has since 2009 proposed a handful of alternative plans for American health care, the New York Times noted.
President-elect Donald Trump has also chosen health care consultant Seema Verma to head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).