Senate Democrats delay Price’s confirmation

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WASHINGTON – Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have boycotted a vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., according to news reports.

The committee was scheduled to vote at 10 a.m.

Democrats boycotted the vote due to “truly alarming news” of a Wall Street Journal report that Price received a special discounted rate for stocks of an Australian pharmaceutical company called Innate Immunotherapies, Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the committee, told CNN.

“This is contrary to congressional testimony he gave,” he said.

Democrats say they will not vote to confirm Price until they can ask more questions about his background, the Associated Press reported.

Republicans on the committee have delayed the vote indefinitely, the AP reported.

Price, the architect of an alternative to Medicare’s competitive bidding program called the market-pricing program, is a popular choice among HME stakeholders. His long-standing desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, popular with President Donald Trump and Republicans, also resonates with stakeholders.

Eighty-five percent of respondents to a recent HME Newspoll said having Price as secretary would be positive for the HME industry. Fifty-six percent said his first priority should be repealing the bid program and replacing it with MPP, followed closely with 28% saying it should be repealing and replacing the ACA.

In overseeing HHS, Price would manage an annual budget of more than $1 trillion. The agency encompasses CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, among others.

Price has endured long and grueling hearings before not only the Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 24 but also the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, known as HELP, on Jan. 18.