Senate confirms Price as HHS secretary


The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Rep. Tom Price, MD, as secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services.

The final tally, recorded in the early hours of Feb. 10, was a strict party-line vote, with all 52 Republicans voting in favor of Rep. Price (R-Ga.) and 47 Democrats voting against. One Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, did not vote. Only a simple majority is needed to confirm cabinet members to their posts.

The confirmation comes amid ongoing concerns presented by Senate Democrats on Dr. Price’s stock purchases, particularly of Australia-based Innate Immunotherapeutics. Dr. Price was serving as a representative from Georgia at the time of his nomination, and there have been questions of possible ethics violations related to this and other securities purchases.

HHS Secretary Tom Price Wikimedia Commons/District office of Tom Price/Creative Commons License

HHS Secretary Tom Price

Democrats also rallied against the policies that Dr. Price advocated for when he was a U.S. House member, including dismantling the Affordable Care Act and pushing for block grants to fund Medicaid. He has also supported policies that would promote more extensive use of health savings accounts linked to high-deductible health plans, and high-risk pools to help ensure that those with pre-existing conditions are able to get insurance coverage without a need for guaranteed issue.

However, Democratic objections were not enough to cause any waver in support from Senate Republicans.

The American Medical Association “looks forward to working with Secretary Price to improve the health of our nation through policies that promote access to high-quality, affordable care, delivery innovation, and reduced regulatory burdens that helps patients and their physicians,” AMA President Andrew Gurman, MD, said in a statement.

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