Retail pharmacy groups praised the confirmation of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, “is uniquely qualified to lead HHS, which will oversee the potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and possible reforms to the Medicaid program, among other high-profile priorities for America’s complex health system,” said B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).
And, at the time of his nomination, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) welcomed Price. “We are enthusiastic to help leverage pharmacy to improve Americans’ health and well-being. When it comes to the accessibility, quality, and affordability of healthcare, 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. 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,” said NACDS CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE.
During his confirmation hearing, Price advocated for pharmacists, particularly in relation to medical provider status. “Paying pharmacists in underserved areas to engage in certain medical services could work well in those states where pharmacists have such licensure and a setting appropriate to the services, where primary care doctors continue to be involved in care, and where there is a patient and consumer demand for such services,” Price said in a response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
During the hearing, Price also signaled some willingness to look further at issues such as government negotiation of drug prices and re-importation, according to Hoey. “As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Price has tended to mirror the approach of his Republican colleagues, which is to call for an easier approval process so that there could be more competition in the marketplace,” Hoey said.
While NCPA supports finding ways to produce better health outcomes while reducing costs, the organization will “continue to push for “common-sense, market-based, bipartisan reforms in our area of expertise – the delivery of critical prescription drug services to Americans,” Hoey said. “We are eager to work with Secretary Price, and look forward to sharing our thoughts with him going forward.”
Since his election to the House of Representatives in 2004, Price has used his medical background to become a leading expert on health policy for the Republican conference, according to NCPA.