After enduring a smear campaign led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his not-so-merry band of henchmen, Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Friday, beginning the process of undoing the damage caused by Obamacare and replacing the failed law with patient-centered reforms.
Remarkably, Price, one of the country’s most successful orthopedic surgeons, is only the third physician to lead the agency throughout its 63-year-history. Former Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., who taught at Harvard Medical School and pioneered sickle-cell anemia innovation, served as President George H.W. Bush’s HHS Secretary from 1989 to 1993, making him the most recent physician-statesman to serve in the country’s top medical role. As such, National Review is surely correct to call Price “the most qualified nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services in a generation.”
Remarkably, Price, one of the country’s most successful orthopedic surgeons, is only the third physician to lead the agency throughout its 63-year-history.
Price’s exceptional credentials in the field of medicine are complemented by the expertise he developed as one of the most influential members of the House Republican Conference.
As Republican Study Committee chairman, he drafted an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill before the Obama Administration’s signature law even passed. He updated and reintroduced his legislation, the Empowering Patients First Act, each subsequent congress, garnering dozens of co-sponsors and even a companion bill in the U.S. Senate with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
He then became the House Republican Policy Committee chairman, where he sought to educate his colleagues about different components of Obamacare replacement bills, fostering debate among a variety of reformers with their own ideas and experience. In his leadership role, Price became a trusted source on all policy matters, especially health care, for the entire conference.
Most recently, he served as the chairman of the House budget committee. While in that role, Price delved into the monumental task of reforming America’s safety net programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — to preserve them for current and future generations. He understands firsthand the severity of the crisis and the proper reforms necessary to preserve these benefits for the American people.
Now at HHS, “the doctor is in.”
Though Congress will craft the repeal-and-replace legislation, Secretary Price would be an important guide throughout this process. He’ll also be able to use the tools of the executive branch to undo the overreaches in health care committed by the Obama Administration, as well as cut the bureaucracy that makes the current health care system unnecessarily expensive and cumbersome to navigate.
Throughout his time in Congress, Price reaffirmed the value of six critical principles to the delivery of patient-centered health care:
1) Quality — Access to health care means nothing if it isn’t any good. Look no further than totalitarian regimes around the world that promise people universal health care but have lower life expectancy rates and higher rates of preventable deaths. If the quality of care is insufficient — whether due to poor education, few resources or insufficient facilities — people will suffer and, sadly, many will die.
Access to health care means nothing if it isn’t any good.
America has long prided itself as the world’s leader in health care quality, and in the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, it will be restored. Patients and those who care for them will return to the center of health care.
2) Accessibility — While Democrats believe in universal coverage, most Republicans would argue that accessibility is a greater good. If Americans have access to the kind of health care they want (not what the government demands they buy), they are empowered to make the best decisions for their families.
What good is the government requiring you to buy health care if the plans you’re offered aren’t what works for you and unable to provide you with the coverage you need?
If Americans have access to the kind of health care they want (not what the government demands they buy), they are empowered to make the best decisions for their families.
3) Affordability — The most universal limitation to any transaction in a marketplace is affordability. If a good or service is too expensive, the cost prohibits an individual from having access to it.
Democrats require Americans to buy the coverage politicians say they must have, even as costs skyrocket. As a result, patients are forced to buy something the government picks for them at a price they often can’t afford.
Republicans, on the other hand, focus on lowering the costs of health care by eliminating or reducing mandates that make insurance and treatment needlessly expensive, and thus, cost-prohibitive. To achieve full coverage, lawmakers must work to reduce health care costs to boost accessibility.
For those who still can’t afford to purchase insurance, Republicans offer a variety of tax benefits — deductions, credits, refundable credits and “advanceable” refundable credits are just some of these options — to give individuals incentives to obtain the coverage they desire. With lowered costs and the alleviation of people’s tax burdens, it would make more financial sense to be covered than to risk being uninsured.
4) Choice — Once health care costs are lowered and care is accessible to all, now it’s time for patients to shop for new insurers, better plans, preferred physicians and hospitals and so on. Obamacare has gutted patient choice through its mandates and regulations. To restore patient-centered health care, medical decision-making must return to patients, families and doctors, instead of politicians and bureaucrats.
To restore patient-centered health care, medical decision-making must return to patients, families and doctors, instead of politicians and bureaucrats.
5) Innovation — America is on the verge of an age of remarkable achievement in medical innovation. Obamacare’s taxes, such as those imposed on medical device manufacturers, stifle the invention, testing and implementation of scientific advancements that save, enhance and even extend lives. From genomic testing to disease research to ground breaking technologies, innovation has the power to transform our nation’s health system and, moreover, improve lives around the globe. All health care policy should foster American-made research and invention.
6) Responsiveness — Finally, Price has always reiterated that responsiveness is critical to the delivery of quality medical care. Providers must be able to quickly respond to the needs of patients, both in long-term care and emergency services. They must be able to adapt to developments in medicine, as well as meet the day-to-day needs of those for whom they care. Long lines, rationing and bureaucratic delays impede the ability of physicians to treat patients in their time of need.
Any Republican repeal-and-replace legislative efforts should be built upon these principles. They are the bedrock of patient-focused medicine, and they’ve been sorely missed under Obamacare. Will the help of Price at HHS, they’ll make a comeback.
Ellen Carmichael is a senior writer for Opportunity Lives. Follow her on Twitter @ellencarmichael.