Renee Ellmers lands Trump Administration job

Former U.S. Congresswoman will head HHS regional office in Atlanta

Official Government Photo—Official Government Photo
Former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) has taken a job in the Trump Administration.

RALEIGH — In her first interview since taking a position within the Trump administration, former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) confirmed that she will be heading the Atlanta regional office for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under her former congressional colleague Secretary Tom Price. Ellmers began her new position on Wednesday which will require her to oversee all department functions for the southern region of the country, including her home state of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. An early supporter of Trump, Ellmers said she approached Price about joining the team after he was tapped to head the agency. “I immediately told him, ‘I want to come work with you at HHS so that we can get everything done that we have been working on for so long,'” said Ellmers who served alongside Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgia. “I’m happy to finally be here,” she said on the phone from Atlanta. “Especially to be coming from North Carolina, to be able to be a voice for good health care coverage and care, is very exciting.”Ellmers likened the post to her service in Washington, D.C., saying that while she will live much of of the year in Atlanta, she will still have a presence in North Carolina where she settled with her husband and son. Ellmers served three terms representing the 2nd Congressional District, but lost her primary against Rep. George Holding last year after state redistricting pitted the two Republican incumbents against each other for the same seat.Ellmers, a registered nurse from Dunn, said preventative medicine is a priority under Price, and she hopes to focus on issues that have a dramatic effect on the southern states like opioid addiction, mental health issues and diabetes. A vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, Ellmers also looks forward to implementing the eventual replacement of Obamacare, and said her former colleagues in Congress are taking their time with a health care bill because it is important to get it right. “You have to build a foundation,” Ellmers said about the bill that passed the U.S. House earlier this month. “I believe that is why the Affordable Care Act didn’t achieve the goal that President [Barack] Obama put forward. I think there just wasn’t a strong enough foundation to move forward.”Addressing some of the more politically charged comments about the Republican-led health care bill, including that the bill opens the door for victims of rape to be denied affordable coverage, Ellmers said she is confident that these allegations are grossly misguided.”As a woman who wants to do everything she can do to empower other women, I can’t tell you how appalled I am that anyone would think that somehow, in this whole process, any Republican or Democrat would ever think to allow an insurance company to abuse someone who has been a victim of sexual abuse,” she said. “If that ever happened in the past, that will never happen moving forward,” Ellmers continued. “I feel secure in knowing that pre-existing conditions will be taken care of. It is part of the ongoing conversation.”In the end though, Ellmers said partnerships with regional nonprofits and advocacy groups to help raise awareness about preventative care and treatment options is more important than any federal bill. “Good health care in this country isn’t going to be solved with a pen or budget — it’s everyone working together to help folks understand the importance of a good, healthy lifestyle, and what we can do to make it happen.”