Physicians Split on Price HHS Nomination

John Commins, December 6, 2016

A Merritt Hawkins poll suggests physicians believe Tom Price, MD, President-elect Trump's pick to lead HHS, will improve physician autonomy and reduce federal intrusions, but also hurt patient access to care.

Tom Price, MD
Tom Price, MD

President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-GA), as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services received lavish and universal praise from physicians' associations that curry favor with the federal government.

Support, however, is not as widespread among practicing physicians for Price, an orthopedic surgeon, according to a small sampling released this week by Merritt Hawkins.

An online survey of 1,094 physicians by the Dallas-based physician recruiting firm found the attitude of physicians is more ambiguous and reflective of the general population, with 46% of physicians generally positive about Price, 42% generally negative, and 12% neutral.

"It's a plurality. It's not a majority. The split down the middle reflects the mood of the country right now," says Kurt Mosley, vice president of strategic alliances at Merritt Hawkins.

"We had a divisive election, so no matter who gets nominated, you are going to have people who are positive about it and an equal amount who are negative. We are more divided than ever and the survey reflects that."


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The survey also asked physicians if they thought Price would improve medical practice conditions for physicians if his nomination for HHS secretary is confirmed. The plurality of respondents (46%) believe Price will improve practice conditions, 34% said he will worsen them, and 20% are neutral.

"Physicians have told us that the least satisfying part of their work is the regulatory paperwork burdens and erosion of autonomy," Mosley says. "When the American Medical Association endorsed his nomination they talked about his preference for market-based solutions and the need to reduce excessive regulatory burdens."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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