Trump taps Obamacare critic for Health secretary

Trump is set to name Republican Representative Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, as his Health and Human Services secretary.

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) announces the House Budget during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 17, 2015.

President-elect Donald Trump will announce on Tuesday he has chosen a vociferous Obamacare critic and an Indiana policy expert to help him overhaul the US healthcare system, a transition official told Reuters.

Mr. Trump is set to name Republican Representative Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia, as his Health and Human Services secretary, and consultant Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a powerful agency that oversees government health programs and insurance standards.

He is expected to cast Mr. Price and Ms. Verma as a "dream team" to help him once he takes office on Jan. 20 with his campaign pledge to repeal President Obama's signature health law, the Affordable Care Act that is better known as Obamacare.

The 2010 law triggered a long and bitter political battle between the Obama White House and Republicans in Congress who said it created unwarranted government intervention in personal healthcare and private industry.

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 US House of Representatives, is currently the chairman of the budget committee. He 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 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.

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.

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 US 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.

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