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Trump taps Obamacare critic Tom Price to lead Health and Human Services

Rep. Tom Price gets into an elevator at Trump Tower on Nov. 16, 2016, in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services — the agency expected to be tasked with dismantling outgoing President Barack Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

In a statement on the nomination, Trump described Price as a "renowned physician" and a "tireless problem solver":

Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare 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. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Price, 62, is a former orthopedic surgeon and has been a leading critic of Obamacare, which Trump has promised to repeal and replace — though he's softened his approach since his Nov. 8 victory. The Georgia lawmaker was an early supporter of the president-elect, endorsing him in May.

"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," he said in a statement.

Price's main gripe about Obamacare is the level of authority is gives to the federal government and specifically the power the agency he is poised to lead wields over Americans' health care choices.

"We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care," the conservative congressman told the Wall Street Journal. "The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best."

In addition to Price, Trump tapped Seema Verma, the founder and CEO of SVC, Inc., a health policy consulting firm, to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems," the president-elect said in a statement on Verma. "Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans."

Before moving into the consulting industry, Verma worked at the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in Washington, D.C.

In a statement of her own, the conservative health care advisor said, "I look forward to helping him tackle our nation's daunting healthcare problems in a responsible and sustainable way."

Verma, an Indiana native, is known best for her work with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, governor of the Hoosier State. She designed Pence's Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, the governor's Obamacare Medicaid expansion model, and has advised many Republican lawmakers on similar issues.

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