President-Elect Trump Set to Debut Dream Team for Healthcare Reform
November 29, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is set to shake up healthcare with his two latest appointments. The incoming president tapped Obamacare opponent U.S. Rep. Tim Price, a Georgia Republican, as his choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Another appointment that will also shake up the healthcare system is Seema Verna, a healthcare consultant from Indiana and adviser to Vice President-elect Mike Pence during his tenure as governor of Indiana, who was tapped to helm the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Both appointees will have to be approved by the Republican controlled U.S. Senate. If approved, which is likely, the duo will be able to implement any number of reforms to the nation’s healthcare system, which would in turn impact the pharma and biotech industries. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, and Verna, will likely begin looking at ways of dismantling and replacing the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Trump has pledged to repeal the program and replace it with something that gives states more control over Medicaid health plans. Verna was the architect of Health Indiana Plan, a consumer directed Medicaid program. Indiana’s plan required beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to health savings accounts, Reuters reported this morning. Trump has called for providing states with Medicaid block grants as part of his provision for repealing the Affordable Care Act.
So far, industry officials seem to believe that Trump will not mandate pricing controls, as Clinton proposed during her run-up to the campaign. Trump was not as vocal about capping prices, but has called for the federal government supported prescription programs to negotiate drug prices. He said such a maneuver could save up to $300 billion, annually.
Since Trump’s electoral victory, biotech stocks have performed well. There is also hope among industry leaders that Trump will implement changes to the U.S. Tax Code that will make it easier for companies to bring off-shore money back into the United States and we could be in for a resurgence of M&A activity.
Another way Trump could shake up healthcare is if he takes aim at dismantling or hamstringing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. On the campaign trail, Trump called the FDA the “Food police,” regarding regulations placed on farmers and food inspections. But it’s not only food regulations that Trump could challenge. Trump has also challenged some of the FDA’s oversight of regulating drug approval. In his 100 Day Plan, Trump said one FDA-specific reform he intends to undertake is to “cut the red tape at the FDA.” According to Trump’s plan, there are “over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.” Trump has also called for easing restrictions for drugs that have been approved by foreign regulatory agencies to be available in the United States, which would bypass the FDA’s regulatory authority over drugs available in the U.S.
Trump takes office on Jan. 20.