With Tom Price in charge at the Department of Health and Human Services, doctors are winning in Washington

Tom Price speaking
The appointment of Tom Price to head HHS has been good news for doctors. (Mark Taylor/CC BY 2.0)

When Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon, was named secretary of Health and Human Services earlier this year, doctors had high hopes that he would look out for their interests. That’s exactly what’s happening: With Price in charge at HHS, doctors are winning in Washington.

While the fight over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act has raged loudly and publicly in Washington, Price has been working quietly to reverse other Obama administration efforts, acting to protect doctors from regulations put in place in the prior eight years, according to STAT.

RELATED: Docs: MACRA success requires less burdensome performance reporting

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Price is listening to physicians’ concerns about issues such as Medicare payment rules under MACRA and burdensome electronic health record requirements, STAT said.

Among the actions he has taken:

  • An American Medical Association committee was given more power over how much the federal government pays for different medical services.
  • He has retroactively reversed certain Medicare rules to ensure some physicians no longer face penalties they would otherwise have had to pay.
  • Price has proposed using almost $1 billion in savings that would be achieved through cuts to certain hospital payments to boost spending on physicians.

RELATED: CMS promises to relieve ‘regulatory burden’ in 2018 Medicare physician fee schedule

While many doctors vehemently oppose Republican efforts to repeal the ACA, they are thrilled at the regulatory rollbacks.

Hospitals, however, haven’t fared as well, with a proposal that would result in major cuts to hospital payments. A proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment rule, released in July, would significantly cut 340 billion drug discount payment rates to hospitals and may harm safety-net hospitals' ability to treat low-income patients.

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