Trump names Obamacare critic Tom Price to key role

Tom Price addresses the second annual Conservative Policy Summit at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, 12 January 2015Image copyright
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US President-elect Donald Trump has picked Tom Price, a strong critic of President Obama’s healthcare reforms, as his future health secretary.

The Georgia congressman and orthopaedic surgeon, 62, chairs the House of Representatives budget committee.

He will play a key role in Republican plans to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare).

In his campaign, Mr Trump vowed to repeal and replace the act, considered Mr Obama’s flagship measure.

However, he has since said he favours keeping certain provisions.

Mr Trump said Mr Price was a “tireless problem solver” and “the go-to expert on healthcare policy”.

“He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

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Mr Price said he was looking forward to the opportunity of serving as health secretary on behalf of the American people.

He said his aim was to create a new system that worked for patients, families and doctors, adding that it should “protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit”.

He will be working closely with Seema Verma, who will lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees government health programs and insurance standards.

“Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system,” Mr Trump said.

Earlier this month Mr Trump, who has pledged to repeal the healthcare bill, said he would keep some parts of the law such as allowing young adults to be insured on their parents’ policies and banning insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America Reporter

Donald Trump campaigned as an outsider intent on cleaning up the federal government, but his top appointments so far paint a picture of a chief executive interested in working with establishment powers to advance a traditional conservative agenda.

The president-elect’s selection of Tom Price for health and human services secretary is a perfect example, as he opted for a congressional insider with detailed knowledge of the legislative steps necessary to realise Mr Trump’s stated goal of dismantling Democratic healthcare reforms.

His pick of Seema Verma for a key healthcare agency is also illuminating. She has a track record of working within the system to advance conservative priorities. For instance, she helped prevent a grassroots Republican revolt when Indiana expanded its Medicaid insurance coverage for the poor by implementing work and eligibility requirements.

While Mr Trump blusters on Twitter and avoids most contact with the media, these latest moves seem to indicate the people running his administration will be detail-oriented and practical, albeit with a decidedly conservative bent.

The real tell, however, may be who he picks for secretary of state. If it’s Mitt Romney, the establishment insiders have prevailed. A loyalist like Rudy Giuliani? All bets are off.

Mr Trump is set to meet Mr Romney for a second time despite one of his top aides launching a public campaign against the former Massachusetts governor’s nomination.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway spoke out against Mr Romney on Sunday, saying Mr Trump’s supporters felt “betrayed” he would consider the 2012 Republican nominee for the prominent role.

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Mr Romney (R) was one of Mr Trump’s fiercest critics during the presidential campaign

Mr Romney was one of Mr Trump’s harshest critics during the campaign.

The president-elect will also sit down with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.

The two men are leading contenders for the all-important diplomatic post.

Earlier, Mr Trump met retired Gen David Petraeus. He said he was “very impressed” with the former CIA director in a tweet after their meeting on Monday.

Gen Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanour charge of mishandling classified information in connection to documents he had shared with his biographer, with whom he was also having an affair.

The president-elect is also scheduled to meet Texas US Representative Michael McCaul, whom he is considering for secretary of homeland security.