Policy

The friendly skies felled HHS Secretary Tom Price, so what’s next for healthcare policy?

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has resigned his post in the wake of the scandal over his use of private jets and government planes at taxpayer expense.

U.S. Heath and Human Services Secretary Tom Price participates in an event to promote the flu vaccine at the National Press Club September 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has resigned his post in the wake of the scandal over his use of private jets and government planes to the tune of more than $1 million for U.S. taxpayers since May, according to Politico.

The scandal is all the more rich for a man who supported $1 trillion in Medicaid spending cuts as part of the U.S. House of Representatives’ ACA repeal and replace bill. He had argued in favor of states using government funds to customize their own health programs to suit the needs of their residents. Price’s resignation comes just as open enrollment is about to start, leaving plenty of questions in its wake from the fate of bundled payments to open enrollment and other healthcare reform measures from the Affordable Care Act.

Politico obtained a copy of Price’s resignation letter which noted he regretted that the scandal created a distraction from important objectives such as the broken health care system, empowering patients, reducing regulatory burdens, health security, the opioids epidemic, serious mental illness and childhood obesity.

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee over the summer, Price tried to argue that his criticism over federal health programs was not that they were too expensive or too underfunded. “The real problem is that they do not work — they fail the very people they are meant to help,” Much like Price.

With Price gone, his interim replacement is Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Don Wright and speculation turns to who will succeed him. The Hill noted that some possible candidates include Seema Verma, who heads up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Scott Gottlieb, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, is another name that’s been mentioned.

The departure leaves a question mark over Price’s push to limit or scale back healthcare reforms of the Obama administration. Under Price, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid cut bundled payment programs such as the Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) Incentive Payment Model and scaled back the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement program from 67 geographic regions to 34. Bundled payments are widely regarded as a necessary step in the shift from fee for service to value-based care. There’s also been concern over perceived attempts to undermine promotion of Open Enrollment from cutting advertising to plans to shut down the healthcare.gov marketplace for maintenance for 12 hours each weekend except one this fall.

https://twitter.com/shaig/status/913881568506236929

Given how popular Trump has made it to find contradictions in his ever changing political stances, Price on Price is equally amusing. Thanks to Shai Goldman at Silicon Valley Bank for unearthing this 2009 CNBC video of then Georgia Rep Tom Price wagging his proverbial finger at fellow Congressmen for their love of private jets.