Tom Price confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary

Published by Healthcare Finance News
Susan Morse
February 10, 2017

The Senate confirmed Georgia Rep. Tom Price to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services early Friday morning in a party-line 52-47 vote.

Price needed no Democratic votes as Republicans hold a 52-seat majority in the Senate.

Democrats did protest Price's confirmation during debate on the Senate floor due to the Georgia representative's stance against the Affordable Care Act and for supporting an overhaul of Medicare using a voucher program, according to The Hill.

Price has come under fire from Democrats for his stock deals. During his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing, Democrats accused the former chairman of the Budget Committee of buying healthcare stocks while serving in Congress and then serving on committees that made decisions that helped boost the price of those stocks.

Price said he was transparent in his investments, made through a broker.

Democrats earlier boycotted a vote on Price's confirmation by not showing up for a Senate Finance Committee vote. But Republicans then changed the rules about needing at least Democrat present for confirmation and sent Price's nomination to the full Senate.

America's Health Insurance Plans Friday morning congratulated Price.

"AHIP congratulates Dr. Price on his confirmation. We look forward to working with him and his staff to develop and implement consumer-focused, private-sector solutions that will make health care more affordable and accessible for every American," said AHIP President and CEO Marilyn Tavenner.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy said, "In light of Sec.Price's previous statements threatening Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, the Center for Medicare Advocacy will be vigilant during his tenure. We will identify and oppose policies that threaten the health and well-being of the millions of Americans and their families who rely on these critical health programs."

The voucher program for Medicare proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and supported by Price would end Medicare as we know it, the Center for Medicare Advocacy said. Also, the center said, full repeal of Affordable Care Act would harm Medicare and the ACA replacement put forward by Price in 2015 would return consumners with pre-existing conditions back into high risk pools, that have high premiums.

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare said that, as a physician, Price has been a longtime advocate for the home health and hospice communities.

"The Partnership looks forward to working with Secretary Price and the leadership at HHS to improve access to skilled home healthcare by providing much-needed regulatory relief to Medicare rules that are currently restricting access to vitally important home health services," stated Colin Roskey, executive vice president.

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