If Tom Price gets HHS secretary post, ACA in crosshairs

Document titled "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"
The Affordable Care Act's days may be numbered of Tom Price becomes HHS secretary. Image: Getty/designer491

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), one of the most outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act, appears to be the leading contender for the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, potentially paving the way for an overhaul of the health law.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.)

Price has emerged as a front-runner for top health administrator in President-elect Donald Trump's administration, Politico reported. The former physician stumped for Trump early in the campaign, arguing that the ACA had “destroyed” the healthcare system. Price is also close with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In 2015, Price sponsored a budget reconciliation bill that would have repealed large swaths of the ACA. President Barack Obama vetoed the bill, and the House failed to come up with the two-thirds majority to override him. Price's potential appointment therefore opens up the possibility that lawmakers would make immediate changes to the ACA through a reconciliation bill, although Republicans are divided on whether that is the best approach. 

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Price’s replacement plan falls largely in line with Ryan’s “A Better Way” plan, relying on high-risk pools and health savings accounts. In his 2015 bill, Price proposed eliminating the ACA tax credits and replacing them with an age-based credit for all taxpayers, according to LifeHealthPro.

Price has also proposed doing away with the provision requiring insurers to cover essential health benefits. And as HHS secretary, Price could take regulatory actions to weaken the ACA by relaxing Medicaid requirements and scaling back enforcement of the individual mandate, Politico pointed out.