February 9, 2017

News Alert: Price Confirmed as HHS Secretary

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Despite vigorous protests by Senate Democrats, the U.S. Senate today confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to helm the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

 
Reaction was swift and candid.
 
“Tom Price’s confirmation suggests a radical departure in federal health policy,” Emily Evans said in an email to RACmonitor. “For the last 30 years, federal health policy has focused on a centrally planned system of prescriptive policies.” 
 
Evans, the managing director for Hedgeye Risk Management who regularly reports on healthcare regulatory matters, went on to say that “Price and the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) nominee, Seema Verma, hope to implement more consumer-oriented policies that use a system of tax credits and HSAs (health savings accounts) to shift healthcare decision-making to the patient and/or their family.”
 
Healthcare attorney David Glaser also weighed in on  the expected changes the new secretary is likely bring to HHS.
 
“Change is coming,” Glaser said. “We don’t know exactly how much, and in what areas, but it is clear that Rep. Price has some fundamental disagreements with current HHS policy.”
 
Glaser also said that major programs like the new cardiac bundling program could be be delayed or cancelled. He further noted that existing CMS programs, such as Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) may be modified or repealed.  
 
“However, any astute observer of health policy knows it is impossible to predict the future with much confidence,” Glaser added. “As always, we will have to watch for new and repealed regulations, and adapt as quickly as possible once the new policy is clear.”  
 
Glaser also believes that the current state of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) should, in his words, “serve as a good reminder as to what to expect or not expect.”
 
“Even when nearly everyone is certain that some policy is forthcoming, unforeseen developments can result in the status quo being maintained,” Glaser said.
Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of RACmonitor and is the program host and executive producer of Monitor Monday.

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