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House Budget Chair Tom Price Tabbed as Trump's HHS Secretary

by Countable | 3.20.17

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), a retired orthopedic surgeon, to become secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. "Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on health-care policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity," Trump said in a statement.

Who is Tom Price?

Price, 62, was born in Lansing, MI, and grew up in Dearborn. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1977 with a general studies degree, earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan Health System two years later and completed his residency at Atlanta’s Emory University. Finding Atlanta to his liking, he opened an orthopedic clinic there and ran it for two decades before leaving his practice to return to Emory, this time as an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery.

He first tried his hand at politics in 1996, when he won the first of four consecutive terms in the state Senate. In 2005, he defeated six primary challengers and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives unopposed. He has since been re-elected five times and currently chairs the House Budget Committee.

Price, a Presbyterian, is pro-life and is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a nonpartisan group whose stated goal is "[to] fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine." In 2006, he voted in favor of constitutionally defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. The following year, he voted against a bill that would have banned job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He has received an “A” grade from the National Rifle Association and a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights organization.

He and his wife, Betty, live in Roswell, GA, where she served on the City Council before being elected to the state House in 2015. They have an adult son named Robert.

What’s the outlook for his confirmation?

Likely but not without a battle. The Democrats have called for an ethics probe into his investments and stock holdings. Price, whose net worth is estimated at $13 million, is alleged to have traded hundreds of thousands of dollars in shares of health-related companies while championing legislation that could have favorably affected their stock prices. Trump’s team has defended him, and since Price is an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act, whose repeal by the Republican-dominated House and Senate is underway, he will probably be confirmed after a hearing that’s expected to turn prickly.

You can tell your senators how to vote on Price’s confirmation using the "Take Action" button below.

What does the Department of Health and Human Services do?

HHS manages programs related to the health and welfare of U.S. citizens. It regulates food products and new pharmaceutical drugs, administers Medicare and Medicaid and other national health programs, endeavors to prevent the outbreak and spread of diseases, and funds medical research.

HHS employs 79,540 people and had a $1.02 trillion budget in fiscal year 2015. Notable sub-agencies include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

— Erin Wright

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons)

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