Washington — President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet pick to lead his administration’s dismantling of the Affordable Care Act is Lansing native Dr. Tom Price, who was raised in Dearborn and graduated from the University of Michigan.
Price, a physician and congressman representing the northern suburbs of Atlanta for 12 years, would serve as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. He currently chairs the House Committee on Budget.
“There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit,” Price said in a statement.
Price, 62, graduated from Dearborn High School in 1972 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1976, followed by his medical degree from UM in 1979. He completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Emory University in Georgia.
He practiced as an orthopedic surgeon for 20 years and taught resident physicians at Emory University School of Medicine and as medical director of the Orthopedic Clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
Trump praised Price’s reputation as a problem solver and health care policy expert. “He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American,” Trump said in a statement.
Replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, is a top priority in the Trump administration’s first 100 days.
When Price was being considered earlier this month, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, called him an “outstanding choice” for the job, praising him as “as bright as they come.”
Upton worked for President Ronald Reagan earlier in his career and stressed how Reagan surrounded himself with “great people,” including presidential aides James A. Baker III, Michael Deaver and Edwin Meese.
“Tom would be of that caliber,” Upton said at the U.S. Capitol. “He would be a great choice. He knows the programs in and out and has wonderful respect here, which is what you need — particularly for someone who’s going to be president who really has never been a legislator. He could count on Tom to push his agenda.”
Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, who has worked with Price on the Budget Committee, also praised the choice.
“I am confident he will provide excellent leadership and look forward to working with him to find to find real, affordable solutions to our broken healthcare system for hardworking American taxpayers,” Moolenaar said in a statement.
Democrats reacted to Price’s nomination by saying they are concerned he would work to convert Medicare into a voucher program and make other changes outside of what they say the mainstream of Americans want for their health care.
“To put in charge of the nation’s health care system and a trillion-dollar budget someone who has never overseen anything larger than a congressional committee ought to raise eyebrows when this position has historically been reserved for an individual with significant administrative experience,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Health Subcommittee, said she’s “deeply concerned” by Price’s support for overhauling Medicare, cutting Social Security and “gutting” women’s health services.
“It is vital that whoever leads the Department of Health and Human Services is dedicated to protecting the health of all Americans,” Stabenow said. “Tom Price’s nomination raises serious questions about how our country will continue providing quality, affordable health care for millions of American families going forward.”