Early in the morning on Friday, the Senate voted along party lines (52-47) to confirm US Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, as secretary of HHS. President Donald Trump nominated Price with the expectation that he will lead the charge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Early in the morning on Friday, the Senate voted along party lines (52-47) to confirm US Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, as secretary of HHS. President Donald Trump nominated Price with the expectation that he will lead the charge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In the past, Price has proposed legislation for replacing the ACA, in addition he supports a plan to turn the Medicare program into a voucher program.
“He can start having a positive impact almost as soon as he’s confirmed,” US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in remarks on the Senate floor when discussing the need to confirm Price. “He can start bringing stability to the healthcare markets Obamacare has harmed. He can start bringing relief to the families Obamacare has hurt. I know he’s ready to get to work with Congress to move toward truly patient-centered health care, care that prioritizes the needs of patients over the needs of Washington."
As head of HHS, Price will oversee agencies responsible for regulating food and drugs, combating public health crises, and sponsoring research.
The confirmation process for Price was contentious. Democrats were accused of “dragging their feet” as they sought to address concerns that Price would pare down insurance protections and health programs, in addition to ethics questions over stock trades.
During a speech on the Senate floor, Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, attempted to sway Republicans to join the Democrats in voting against Price. She separated out Price from Trump’s nominees to other Cabinet positions, noting that while those other nominees were usually unqualified for the positions they were picked, Price “has a lot of experience in healthcare policy.”
However, Warren made it clear that it is not experience she agrees with.
“Yes he has experience; but it is the kind of experience that should horrify you if you care about Medicare, if you care about Medicaid, or if you care about your own insurance coverage,” Warren said. “Congressman Price’s record is perfectly clear: he wants to destroy fundamental protections that millions of Americans depend on for their health and their economic security.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, called the confirmation a “big step forward” for Americans who are struggling under the ACA.
“As we have made clear, the time for patient-centered reform is now, and Tom is–without question–the leader at HHS we need to make it happen,” Ryan said. “We look forward to working with him to expand access to quality, affordable health care.”