On January 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee held a confirmation hearing for Tom Price, who has been pegged by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price currently serves as a Republican U.S. Representative for Georgia's 6th district. He is Chairman of the House Budget Committee. Prior to serving in Congress, Price was in private practice as an orthopedist.
Some Republicans, including HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-KY), joined Democrats in questioning Price about what his plan would be for a replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which Congress is poised to repeal. Price repeatedly said that matter is a legislative issue, and that as HHS Secretary, his role would be to carry out the policy priorities of the President. When asked questions about whether he would implement a health care system that provided coverage to everyone, Price repeatedly said he supported "access" to coverage for all.
Democrats hit Price hard on questions regarding the purchase of certain securities, which they implied might have been a conflict of interest with legislation Price worked on that would benefit pharmeceutical companies he owned stock in. Price said that his investments were handled properly in a broker-directed account. Democrats also used the opportunity of questioning Price to highlight concerns over the impending repeal of the ACA, asking him to justify provisions of healthcare legislation that he had introduced that differ significantly from the ACA. Though Price's legislation was ultimately not passed, minority-party Committee members intimated that any replacement to the ACA would likely contain elements from the failed bill. When presented with these questions, Price reiterated that ACA replacement is a legislative matter for Congress to determine, and that his role as HHS Secretary would be to carry out the law as directed by the President.
The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing with Price on January 24. Written testimony and video of the full HELP Committee hearing is available here.