Trump Appoints Physician as Head of HHS

November 29, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed US Representative Tom Price (GA-R), an orthopedic surgeon, as secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Price is a cosponsor of two pieces of legislation that directly benefit ASCs: the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality and Access Act and the Electronic Health Fairness Act. The ASC Quality and Access Act would help eliminate the growing disparity in Medicare payments to ASCs and hospital outpatient departments (HOPD) by using the hospital market basket instead of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to determine the annual inflation updates that ASCs receive. It would also require CMS to disclose which criteria it uses to deny certain procedures from being performed in ASCs and give ASCs a voice on the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment, which makes recommendations to CMS on various Medicare payment policies. The Electronic Health Fairness Act would assist physicians practicing in ASCs by prohibiting patient encounters in the ASC setting from being counted toward meaningful use requirements until certified electronic health record (EHR) technology is approved. The bill would also give HHS the authority to create that certified technology.

Price is a vocal critic of Obamacare and has already proposed a plan—the “Empowering Patients First” act—to replace the Affordable Care Act. He has also expressed support for balance billing and Medicare reform. Price will be the first physician to head HHS since 1993.

ASCA will continue to update members about the new administration and the 115th Congress in the association’s “Government Affairs Update” e-newsletter every Thursday. For a more in-depth review of how President-Elect Trump, incoming HHS Secretary Price and Congressional Republicans will impact the ASC industry in 2017 and beyond, ASCA is hosting an exclusive Political Insider Briefing on December 15 for ASCAPAC members and ASC Advocates. To learn more about this invitation-only event, contact Danielle Kaster.