Georgia Rep. Tom Price is expected to be named President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of health and human services as early as Tuesday, according to a dozen Republican operatives and political figures with knowledge of the plan, putting a prominent critic of the Affordable Care Act in position to make vast changes to the law.
The operatives, all of whom requested anonymity since they are not authorized to speak on the record, said they were told the announcement would come in the next day but stressed the timeline could change. Two of those figures said the president-elect offered the Roswell Republican the job on Monday and expected Trump’s campaign to announce it Tuesday morning.
The news was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday evening. The New York Times, citing a Trump transition official, also reported late Monday that Price was tapped for the job.
Spokespeople for Price and Trump’s transition team did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Price’s name surfaced for the Cabinet-level position earlier this month. The 62-year-old was one of several Capitol Hill committee chairmen to endorse Trump in May as it became clear the New Yorker was going to become the Republican nominee for president.
Price, a wonky orthopedic surgeon who has represented his Roswell-based House district for 12 years, has been at the center of congressional efforts to repeal Obamacare as chairman of the House Budget Committee. He was also one of the only GOP lawmakers to design a replacement plan for the 2010 health care law — a proposal that never received a vote in committee or on the floor of the House.
Should he be confirmed as the 23rd secretary of health and human services, Price would still play a central but different role in dismantling and eventually replacing the Affordable Care Act. This time it would be as head of the sprawling, 80,000-person department in charge of implementing such health care policies.
Under his purview would be the roughly one dozen agencies that include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Cabinet position would allow Price to leverage his close relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan, a friend from their years together on the budget panel, to reimagine health care policy and make changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare.
Price’s own Obamacare replacement plan called for tearing down the system’s insurance exchanges, mandates and minimum requirements for health plans. It instead favored tax credits based on a policy holder’s age that would help customers buy insurance on individual markets.
Health care policy has long been the motivating force in Price’s political career. He got his start as a leader of the Medical Association of Georgia in the mid-1990s before getting elected to the state Senate.
Meanwhile, the jockeying to replace Price in the 6th congressional District, which includes portions of Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, has already begun behind the scenes.
Price’s impeding nomination also shakes up the 2018 race for governor, a position Price was long rumored to be eyeing.
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