By NEIL VERSEL – February 2017
There are plenty of unknowns about newly installed Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price, but two things are pretty clear: He knows the intricacies of the healthcare industry and he is deferential to the role of physicians.
Friday, Price became the 23rd HHS secretary after the Senate confirmed his nomination in the wee hours by a 52-47 vote that broke strictly along party lines. An orthopedic surgeon who previously represented suburban Atlanta in Congress, Price is the first physician to head HHS since Dr. Louis Sullivan in 1989-93.
“It’s significant that he’s a physician,” said Julius W. Hobson, a senior policy advisor in the Washington office of law firm Polsinelli. “They have different viewpoints” than other bureaucrats, said Hobson, a former American Medical Association lobbyist who has known Price since 1994.
“He, [Steven] Mnuchin at Treasury and [James] Mattis at Defense are probably the cream of the crop in this administration in terms of experience and knowledge,” Hobson said.
Hobson noted that Price has long been involved in organized medicine, via the AMA, the Medical Association of Georgia and, yes, the controversial Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. “Even in the House, he was active in the AMA,” Hobson noted.
In shaping healthcare policy, Price always has physician interests in mind. “He will first and foremost look at how public policy will affect the practice of medicine,” according to Hobson.