HHS appointee Price to bring rare provider perspective to role, insiders say

In a statement, Price said he is "humbled by the challenges that lay ahead" for HHS
In a statement, Price said he is "humbled by the challenges that lay ahead" for HHS

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday announced his nomination of the “dream team” of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and consultant Seema Verma to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, respectively.

Price currently serves as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, as well as a member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. He has been an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, introducing legislation of his own to replace the policy.

His appointment also has garnered praise from long-term care providers impressed with his background as an orthopedic surgeon. Trump's pick makes Price the first HHS secretary with experience as a healthcare provider since Louis Wade Sullivan, M.D., served under President George H.W. Bush.

“As an orthopedic surgeon, HHS Designee Price has a very good understanding of the provider perspective,” Cynthia Morton, executive vice president at the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, told McKnight's. “I have found Price to be supportive of the long-term care sector as he understands the unique role of long-term care and the patients we care for every day.”

Clifton J. Porter II, senior vice president for government affairs at the American Health Care Association, said in a press call Tuesday that the group is pleased with the appointment, since Price's experience “actually delivering care and understanding the rehabilitation process will add insight and some uniqueness in that role.”

Porter noted that AHCA is “excited about [Price] leading HHS for a myriad of reasons” including his past criticisms of CMS oversight and bundled payments for joint replacements.

The nomination of Seema Verma as CMS administrator also received warm feedback from providers due to her previous work on health policy issues through her role as founder, president and CEO of SVC, Inc., an Indiana-based consultancy firm. Verma also worked closely with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on expanding Medicaid in Indiana.

“Indiana's skilled nursing providers can attest to Seema's dedication and creativity to improving our healthcare system,” said Zach Cattell, president of the Indiana Health Care Association, in a statement. “Her deep experience will serve her well in this new role, as will her unique understanding of reimbursement, operations and regulations.”

LeadingAge officials echoed the sentiments, saying they've “developed a list of regulatory, executive, and legislative changes that we hope the new administration will consider,” and “are open to see how they approach policy and the issues that are so important to our members.”