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NACDS welcomes Trump’s HHS, CMS nominees

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CEO Steve Anderson to keep pharmacy's health care role top of mind

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores said it’s ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Rep. Tom Price

Rep. Tom Price

Trump on Tuesday named U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.) as HHS secretary and Seema Verma, president, chief executive officer and founder of national health policy consultancy SVC Inc., as CMS administrator.

“NACDS welcomes the nominations of Congressman Tom Price to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services and Seema Verma to serve as administrator of CMS. We are enthusiastic to help leverage pharmacy to improve Americans’ health and well-being,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said in a statement.

“When it comes to the accessibility, quality and affordability of health care, pharmacies are doing more than ever before and can be utilized even more effectively for the good of patients and for the benefit of society,” he added. “NACDS has a powerful story to tell, and we look forward to working with these leaders to put that story into action in new and innovative ways.”

Alluding to the myriad changes in the health care system and new approaches to care triggered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Anderson stressed that all health care stakeholders must work together to ensure effective, efficient delivery of health services.

“Collaboration is absolutely essential to maximize the potential of the health care delivery system and to prevent policies that stifle it,” he stated. “NACDS looks forward to engaging completely in the ongoing work of developing and implementing solutions that benefit American patients and consumers.”

Trump described the Price and Verma nominations as a “dream team” that will “transform our health care system for the benefit of all Americans.”

“Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on health care policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity. He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American,” Trump said in a statement.

seema-verma_svc

Seema Verma

He said Verma brings to the table “decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems.”

Price, an orthopedic surgeon, helped found one of the nation’s largest private orthopedic practices. He serves as chairman of the House Committee on the Budget and on the House Ways and Means Committee, including the Subcommittee on Health.

“It is an honor to be nominated to serve our nation as secretary of Health and Human Services. Thanks to President-Elect Donald Trump and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence for their confidence,” Price said in a statement. “I am humbled by the incredible challenges that lay ahead and enthusiastic for the opportunity to be a part of solving them on behalf of the American people.”

A six-term congressman, Price has been an avowed critic of the ACA and has steadfastly sought to replace it. The New York Times noted that in every Congress since 2009, Price has introduced legislation offering a detailed replacement plan for the ACA.

The Times described Price as a “radical” choice for HHS secretarynd in an editorial on Wednesday. “In picking Rep. Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen as his secretary of Health and Human Services a man intent on systematically weakening, if not demolishing, the nation’s health care safety net,” the Times editorial said.

In accepting the HHS nomination by Trump, Price said there’s a lot of work ahead to improve the U.S. health care system. “There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit,” he commented.

Verma would bring significant experience in the health care arena as CMS administrator. For more than 20 years, she has worked on a range of policy and strategic projects involving Medicaid, health insurance, public health, state Medicaid agencies, state health departments and state departments of insurance, as well as the federal government, private companies and foundations.

Her background also includes redesigning Medicaid programs in several states. SVC’s website describes Verma as the architect the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), the nation’s first consumer-directed Medicaid program under Gov. Mitch Daniels (R.) of Indiana and Gov. Pence’s HIP 2.0 waiver proposal.

Verma led Indiana’s health reform efforts after the ACA’s enactment in 2010 and worked with public health and state insurance agencies to implement the law, including understanding regulatory changes and the impact of the health exchanges on state insurance markets. She also provided testimony to the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and presented to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Medicaid Task Force.

“I am honored to be nominated by President-elect Trump,” Verma stated. “I look forward to helping him tackle our nation’s daunting health care problems in a responsible and sustainable way.”


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