Anti-abortion advocate and long-time critic of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, Tom Price, has been nominated as America's next health secretary by President-elect Donald Trump.
Price, an orthopaedic surgeon, is House Budget Committee Congressman and has been a Representative of the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, for the past 11 years. Trump's decision was announced by his transition team Tuesday (29 November).
"He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American," Trump in a statement.
In 2011 Price lead Republican efforts in the House of Representatives to pass the Protect Life Act, which bars women from health insurance plans that cover abortions under the Affordable Care Act. It also make it legal for hospitals to refuse an abortion to women with life-threatening conditions.
"This is a fundamental step in our efforts to protect the sanctity of life," said Price, then House Republican Policy Committee Chairman, when the act was passed.
The move represented, he said, that Republicans had "upheld our pledge to honor the concerns of the majority of Americans and ensure that no hard-earned taxpayer dollars are used for abortions." He added that he would "continue our efforts for a full repeal of Obamacare."
There are indications from Capitol Hill that Republicans will move early next year to completely defund sexual education and birth control non-profit organisation Planned Parenthood.
After a meeting with Obama in the days following the US election Trump said that he would keep some aspects of the Obama's Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, but did not specify which ones. The 2010 law reformed the health care insurance industry and has been sharply cricticised by Republicans.
The law stopped insurance companies from denying people coverage or charging them more based on their health and conditions. It gave the right to rapidly appeal against insurance decisions and stop companies from hiking their rates without reason.
However, insurance premiums are set to rise by an average of 22% between 2016 and 2017 because many people who were not covered by insurance before Obamacare are sicker than anyone expected. The premiums are rising to cover their medical bills.
"Six years after the bill was rammed through Congress and three years after its ill-fated rollout, Obamacare is having the opposite effect of many of the promises the president has made in previous speeches," Price said in an October statement.
Price has tabled detailed legislation to replace Obamacare for years and many of his ideas are laid out in the Republican "Better Way" plan. That plan looks at overhauling the entire healthcare system. One of Price's aims is to replace Obamacare with a system of tax credits that those who are uninsured can use to buy health coverage.
"Congressman Tom Price will be a great Secretary of Health and Human Services," said neoconservative Trump advisor Newt Gingrich. "He is the right leader to help Congress replace Obamacare."