Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the top healthcare official in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, expressed support for the House GOP’s new plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in a letter to congressional Republican leaders on Tuesday.
Price, a former Republican representative from Georgia and surgeon, said the new plan — called the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — will “align with the President’s goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act.”
“These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions,” Price wrote in the letter to the two House leaders in charge of the committees that will review the bill, Ways and Means Chair Rep. Kevin Brady and Energy and Commerce Chair Rep. Greg Walden.
The AHCA does conform to the principles laid out by Trump in his joint address to Congress, but it notably omits some ideas favoured by the president, including allowing the sale of insurance plans across state lines and controls for prescription drug costs.
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that those elements are coming in “phase 2 & 3” of the healthcare overhaul.
House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted that the letter was “GREAT NEWS” and Price “endorsed our bill to repeal & replace Obamacare on behalf of the Trump administration.”
Here’s the full letter:
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES WASHINGTON, D.C. 20201
March 7, 2017
Hon. Greg Walden Chairman Committee on Energy & Commerce 2125 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Walden and Chairman Brady:
Hon. Kevin Brady Chairman Committee on Ways & Means 1102 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
On behalf of the Trump Administration, I am writing in support of the reconciliation recommendations recently released for consideration by your Committees. Together, they align with the President’s goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act. These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions.
Your legislative proposals are consistent with the President’s commitment to repeal the Affordable Care Act; provide advanceable, refundable tax credits for Americans who do not already receive such tax benefits through health insurance offered by their employers; put Medicaid on a sustainable path and remove burdensome requirements in the program to better target resources to those most in need; empower patients and put healthcare dollars and decisions back into their hands by expanding the use of health savings accounts; ensure a stable transition away from the Affordable Care Act; and protect people with pre-existing conditions.
Achieving all of the President’s goals to reform healthcare will require more than what is possible in a budget reconciliation bill, as procedural rules on this type of legislation prevent inclusion of key policies such as selling insurance across state lines, lowering drug costs for patients, providing additional flexibility in Medicaid for states to manage their programs in a way that best serves their most vulnerable citizens, or medical legal reforms. Your proposals represent a necessary and important first step toward fulfilling our promises to the American people. We look forward to working with you throughout the legislative process, making necessary technical and appropriate changes, and ensuring eventual arrival of this important bill on the President’s desk.
Thomas E. Price, M.D. Secretary
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