Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Senate Finance Committee OKs Tom Price, MD, for HHS Chief

The Senate Finance Committee today approved the nomination of Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga), to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and serve as President Donald Trump's point person in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
 The 14 to 0 vote reflected the partisan tumult engulfing the nation's capital during Trump's first few weeks in office. All the votes came from Republican members of the committee because, for a second day in a row, the 12 Democratic members boycotted executive sessions to confirm both Dr Price and Steven Mnuchin, the president's nominee for Treasury secretary. Ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said the committee should not move forward on the nominations until it addresses "unanswered questions and misleading statements" by both men. Democrats contend that Dr Price has not come clean about alleged conflicts of interest regarding his investments in healthcare companies, which he has denied.
Dr Price's nomination now goes before the full Republican-controlled Senate for a vote. Because the Senate changed its rules when Democrats were in power to exempt cabinet-level appointments from a filibuster, Dr Price needs only a simple majority, or 51 votes, for confirmation. Republicans hold 52 seats.
Ignoring all the expected Republican/Democratic debate over ethics and politics, his confirmation will be unique in that he is the first physician in my memory to serve in this capacity.

Trump has chosen a man who understands the medical system as a practicing physician. In the past, leaders have been from other sectors of government who in many cases were assessed on performance as heads of other departments.  Few physicians are confident in non clinicians when it comes to making medical decisions.  

Just recently chair of the House Budget Committee, Dr Price has been an adamant foe of the ACA and government regulation that he considers burdensome for physicians. Trump has said that once confirmed, Dr Price will work with the White House to introduce a plan to replace the healthcare reform law, one that will provide "insurance for everybody." If confirmed, the orthopedic surgeon would then help implement the replacement plan.

Senate Finance Committee OKs Tom Price, MD, for HHS Chief
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