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Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Pick Tom Price Leaves Doctors Divided

Rep. Tom Price

Rep. Tom Price

Washington, DC, December 28, 2016 — Robert Pear reports in The New York Times that when President-elect Donald J. Trump chose Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be his Health and Human Services Secretary, the American Medical Association (AMA) swiftly endorsed the selection of one of its own, an orthopedic surgeon who has championed the role of physicians throughout his legislative career.

Then the larger world of doctors and nurses weighed in on the beliefs and record of Mr. Price, a suburban Atlanta Republican — and the split among caregivers, especially doctors, quickly grew sharp.

“The AMA does not speak for us,” says a petition signed by more than 5,000 doctors.

Mr. Trump and a Republican-held Congress are considering some of the biggest changes to the American health care system in generations: not only the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which is providing insurance to some 20 million people, but also the transformation of Medicare, for older Americans, and Medicaid, for low-income people.  Mr. Price has favored those changes.

Seven years ago, the AMA’s support helped lift President Obama’s health care proposals toward passage, and the group has backed the law, with some reservations, since its adoption in 2010.

But as Republicans push for its dismantlement, deep disagreements within the AMA, which has long wielded tremendous power in Washington, could lessen its influence.

The concerns voiced by dissident doctors do not appear to imperil Senate confirmation of Mr. Price, but they do ensure that his confirmation hearings next month will be as contentious as any held for a Trump nominee, featuring a full public examination of the new president’s proposed health policies.

The controversy began soon after Mr. Trump announced on Nov. 29 that he had chosen Mr. Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services, which controls Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance exchange, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To read Pear’s full story, click here.