Tom Price had barely flown the White House coop when names for his replacement as health and human services secretary began to circulate.
Mounting public outrage over Price’s $400,000 charter flight bills forced his resignation late Friday — roughly an hour after his boss, President Trump, decamped for a weekend of golf at his New Jersey club.
Those on the shortlist circulating in D.C. run the gamut from Washington insiders to celebrity talk-show host and cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz.
But a more likely choice might be Seema Verma, currently the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, given her experience dealing with major insurance programs.
She comes with the added bonus of being a protégé of Vice President Mike Pence, a major player in negotiations with Congress this year on the futile “Obamacare” repeal effort.
Verma’s policy expertise is admired in Washington, but she’s known as a political neophyte.
A more seasoned choice would be Scott Gottlieb, a veteran operative who heads the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA has regulatory authority across pharmaceuticals and consumer products, and Gottlieb may prefer to stay where he is and avoid the quicksand of health care policy.
Despite the recent defeat suffered by Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy – whose health care bill got shot down – he’s seen by the White House as someone who would win confirmation easily.
But luring Cassidy from the Senate, where his prospects are bright, may not be easy.
Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive who is term-limited after 2018, is also on the list.
But Scott is expected to mount a Senate campaign against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson next year.
Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn has serious support among conservative House Republicans for her fierce criticism of the Affordable Care Act and long-standing opposition on social issues such as abortion.
But she’s short on health care experience and has also said she is considering a run for retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s seat.
Until a decision is made, Trump has appointed Don Wright, a deputy assistant secretary for health and the director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, to serve as acting secretary.
With News Wire Services