Trump names new HHS and CMS heads

Rep. Tom Price will lead Health and Human Services while Mike Pence ally and Indiana consultant Seema Verma will spearhead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 
By Henry Powderly
09:38 AM
Trump HHS CMS heads

President-elect Donald Trump formally named Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, MD to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under his administration and Indiana healthcare consultant Seema Verma to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Price has long been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act and is expected to lead efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's signature legislation.

"Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity," Trump said in a statement emailed to news organizations. "He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Health and Human Services."

Price had proposed plans in 2009 to replace Obamacare.

Trump’s new CMS head, meanwhile, Verma is an ally of Vice President-elect Mike Pence and worked with the then Indiana governor to craft Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, an alternative to Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

"She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems," Trump said. "Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans."

As CMS chief, Verma will determine the future of many programs healthcare organizations participate in, such as various value-based innovation models, the meaningful use program, and MACRA, the new law that changes how physicians are reimbursed under Medicare.

On the IT front, Rep. Price is also highly focused on healthcare information technology, especially laws tied to reporting meaningful use of electronic health records. Price specifically called for a 90-day reporting period, instead of a full year. CMS in November did change that requirement and also included the 90-day reporting option in its final MACRA rule.

Price was also one of several representatives who pushed to delay the industry's adoption of the ICD-10 diagnostic code set. Though the codes eventually went live, Price's efforts helped ensure CMS included a one-year grace period in 2016. 

Twitter: @HenryPowderly

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