Trump taps HME champion Price as HHS secretary

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

WASHINGTON – President Elect Donald Trump has named Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a long-time champion of the HME industry and its efforts to reform Medicare’s competitive bidding program, as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to news reports.

Price, a six-term congressman, is a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act and, according to The New York Times, has been studying how to dismantle and replace Obamacare for the past six years. He serves on the influential Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.

Earlier this month, Price was at Medtrade in Atlanta to update attendees on efforts to roll back a second round of reimbursement cuts in non-bid areas. Industry stakeholders, including Tom Ryan of AAHomecare and John Gallagher of The VGM Group, gave him an award for his work championing the HME industry on the Hill.

Price has introduced bills to create an alternative to the competitive bidding program, called the market-pricing program. Tenets of MPP include requiring providers to fulfill their contracts and putting out to bid only two product categories per bid area (with the remaining product categories adopting the price submitted by contract suppliers in other areas of equal size).

Price has also introduced bills to soften the blow of the recent national roll out of competitive bidding by providing a 30% increase in reimbursement over the bidding-derived prices and a four-year phase-in period, and reinstating the bid cap at the unadjusted fee schedule amount.

Before coming to Washington, D.C., Price was an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine and the medical director of the Orthopedic Clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital, where he taught resident doctors in training.

Price, who lives in Roswell, Ga., with his wife, Elizabeth, worked in private practice as an orthopaedic surgeon for nearly 20 years.

Trump has also named Seema Verma, founder and president of health policy consulting firm SVC, as the next administrator of CMS. Verma is a Medicaid policy expert and the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan, the nation’s first consumer-directed Medicaid program.