Brief

Tom Price confirmed as HHS secretary

Dive Brief:

  • Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) was confirmed as HHS Secretary early Friday by a party line vote of 52-47.
  • Price, among other cabinet picks from President Donald Trump, faced an unusually high amount of pushback from Democrats. Much of it involved concerns about his investments in companies that could benefit from legislation he endorsed as a member of the House.
  • Democrats debated the nomination for several hours Thursday night into early Friday morning after Price was pushed through committee despite a Democratic boycott.

Dive Insight:

Price, an orthopedic surgeon, received early endorsements from major industry groups like the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association but those groups faced anger from members who noted that Price opposes the ACA, which both organizations have stood behind.

A report from USA Today found that Price’s financial investments triggered investigations from federal securities regulators and the House ethics committee. He gave incorrect information on the timing of his stock purchases and didn’t report some at all. Price also received scrutiny for his involvement in Australian biotech company Immunotherapeutics: After hearing about the company from another lawmaker, he received a private stock offering. Price previously said he will divest all his healthcare stocks within 90 days if confirmed as HHS Secretary.

In two committee hearings, Price offered assurances that he did not want to yank insurance coverage from people and wanted to continue paying for preventive services and protecting people with pre-existing conditions. He gave no details for how he would do so, however, as most GOP proposals to replace the ACA do not include these provisions. Price also said he would continue to implement MACRA.

Price has a history of pushing for more state control over healthcare regulations and previously said he would support giving them more control over their Medicaid dollars.

Now that he has been confirmed, Price can take a more prominent role in the GOP’s efforts to repeal and repair or replace the ACA. House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week he expects that to happen by the end of the year. Trump’s pick to head the CMS, Seema Verma, who has a confirmation hearing set for Feb. 16.

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Filed Under: Health Law Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Getty Images