NEW YORK • US President-elect Donald Trump yesterday named a vociferous critic of Obamacare and a policy consultant to help him overhaul the healthcare system that Republicans have targeted since Democrats enacted sweeping reforms in 2010.
Republican Representative Tom Price, an orthopaedic surgeon from Georgia, will be Health and Human Services Secretary, and consultant Seema Verma will lead the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a powerful agency that oversees government health programmes and insurance standards.
Mr Trump cast Mr Price and Ms Verma as a "dream team" to help him once he takes office on Jan 20 with his campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare, Democratic President Barack Obama's signature health law formally known as the Affordable Care Act.
In a statement, Mr Trump said of Mr Price: "He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American."
Mr Price said there was much work to be done "to ensure we have a healthcare system that works for patients, families and doctors".
The 2010 Obamacare law, aimed at expanding health insurance coverage to millions more Americans, triggered a long and bitter fight between the White House and congressional Republicans, who said it created unwarranted government intervention in personal healthcare and private industry.
Mr Trump has said he will replace Obamacare with a plan to give states more control over the Medicaid health plan for the poor and allow insurers to sell plans nationally.
Mr Trump said Ms Verma had decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate complicated healthcare systems.
She has worked with Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, on a compromise to expand Medicaid coverage for the state's poor with federal funding. The Indiana scheme requires beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to health savings accounts.
Both positions require Senate confirmation, and the Trump administration will need congressional approval to repeal and change the health law.
US House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has touted House Republicans' plan to replace Obamacare, praised the selection of Mr Price, saying: "We could not ask for a better partner to work with Congress to fix our nation's healthcare challenges."
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer denounced the choice, calling Mr Price "far out of the mainstream of what Americans want".