Senate Health Committee Questions Rep. Tom Price In HHS Confirmation Hearing

Jan 18, 2017
Originally published on January 18, 2017 6:33 pm
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Several of Donald Trump's Cabinet picks were at Senate hearings on Capitol Hill today. Trump's choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services got some tough questions. Georgia Congressman Tom Price was asked to explain why he invested in companies then introduced legislation that affected those companies. Price said he had hired a broker to manage his finances, and he wasn't aware of the transactions. Price also got plenty of questions about the future of Obamacare. NPR's Allison Kojak reports.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: The senators tried to pin Price down on the incoming Trump administration's plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. He had to answer for his own past proposals and for the statements of his future boss. Democratic Senator Patty Murray criticized him for supporting a bill that will allow lawmakers to repeal Obamacare.

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PATTY MURRAY: Just last week, you voted to begin the process of ripping apart our health care system without any plan to replace it despite independent studies showing that nearly 30 million people would lose health care coverage.

KODJAK: But she wasn't alone in her concern. Her Republican counterpart, Lamar Alexander, made the case for lawmakers to slow down.

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LAMAR ALEXANDER: The president-elect has said, let's do a repeal and replace simultaneously. To me, that must mean that any repeal of parts of Obamacare wouldn't take effect until after some concrete, practical alternative were in place for Americans to choose.

KODJAK: Price agreed and suggested Democrats are scaring the public by saying millions of people are about to lose their health insurance.

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TOM PRICE: Nobody's interested in pulling a rug out from under anybody. We believe that it's absolutely imperative that individuals that have health coverage be able to keep health coverage.

KODJAK: Price also assured the senators that he doesn't intend to include any changes to Medicare in the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senator Bernie Sanders also sought reassurance about Medicare as well as Medicaid and Social Security. He read a series of comments that President-elect Trump has made over the last two years promising not to cut any of those programs. Price said he expects Trump will keep those promises.

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BERNIE SANDERS: So you are telling us that to the best of your knowledge, Mr. Trump will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

PRICE: As I say, I have no reason to believe that that position has changed.

KODJAK: Price will face another round of questions next week at his official confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.

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