“If there are opportunities for bipartisanship, Hillary would be well-served to think through whether her key appointments in healthcare would help promote that bipartisanship,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group.
Stabilizing the Affordable Care Act's struggling insurance exchanges will top the list of challenges Clinton's healthcare team will need to quickly tackle. They'll also have to lead the tricky implementation of the new Medicare physician payment system, accelerate the use of value-based payment, manage Medicaid expansion and reforms through negotiations with states, find ways to control rising prescription drug costs, and guide the implementation of the Precision Medicine Initiative and Cancer Moonshot.
Any of Clinton's picks would have to be prepared to do battle with Republicans and healthcare industry stakeholders. A number of them may be reluctant to jump back into the fray after grueling years of prior public service or because they prefer to continue more lucrative private-sector careers.
“Do these folks really want to wade back into the wars?” asked Jim Manley, a former top aide to Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid who's now a communications strategist in Washington.
With Clinton's odds of winning the presidency growing in the wake of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's scandal-driven meltdown, speculation is mounting about who she will select to administer health policy as HHS secretary, CMS administrator, and in other top agency posts. Clinton and her transition team, headed by former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, have made it a goal to increase the number of women and minorities who are hired.
There is less speculation about Trump's health picks because Clinton has a clear, consistent lead in the polls and because no one is sure who Trump's health policy advisers are. A number of veteran Republican health policy experts and former health officials say they have not been in contact with the Trump campaign or else that they do not wish to serve in a Trump administration.
Guessing who the new president's choices will be is a favorite Washington parlor game every four years. Modern Healthcare surveyed seven veteran Democratic-affiliated health policy experts, most of whom participated on background, to find out who the leading contenders are.