President Donald Trump has tapped former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as his first HHS chief, replacing the former Republican congressman who oversaw the federal response to the opioid crisis.
The Trump administration announced the appointment Tuesday afternoon.
Price, a physician and orthopedic surgeon, was tapped by Trump in August as his deputy secretary of health and human services.
He was named interim HHS secretary in August and is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as soon as Wednesday.
Trump said Price was a good fit for the job, which was created by former President Barack Obama.
“Tom Price has proven himself a trusted adviser on the issue of addiction, and has proven to be a dedicated and thoughtful advocate for the people of Georgia,” Trump said in a statement.
“He’s well-versed in the medical and economic issues facing the people in our state, and he has proven a strong advocate for our state’s interests and the safety of our citizens.
Tom will have an outstanding opportunity to lead HHS, which has been an important component of the Department of Health and Human Services, and to ensure that we remain focused on delivering care and providing the best possible care for our citizens.”
Price served in Congress for 13 years, first as a state representative from Georgia and then as secretary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under Obama.
The former congressman, a Democrat, had been an outspoken critic of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Price said in October that Trump is unfit to lead the Department because of his personal history of bigotry, racism and misogyny.
The administration released Price’s resignation letter to the public on Tuesday.
The resignation letter says he accepted the position to “address the pressing challenges of the health care and economic conditions facing our country.”
Price’s appointment comes at a time when the federal government is struggling with the opioid epidemic.
More than 9,300 people have died from opioids since 2014.
More opioid-related deaths have been reported in the United States than in any other country in the world, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The crisis has affected communities of color, including many in rural areas, where communities of colour are disproportionately affected by the drug epidemic.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with Tom Price as our HHS secretary and am proud to serve the American people in their time of need,” Price said Tuesday in a written statement.
Price also served in the House for eight years before being elected to Congress in 2010.
He is the first African American to serve in that position.
Price was appointed to the post by former Vice President Joe Biden in April.