Tom Price is in as HHS secretary
WASHINGTON – The Senate early on Friday approved the nomination of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Senate voted 52 to 47 to confirm Price, a long-time champion of the HME industry.
“Dr. Price has a strong appreciation of the role that home medical equipment providers play in allowing people to remain in their homes when recuperating from an illness or dealing with long-term health changes,” said Tom Ryan, president and CEO of AAHomecare, in a statement. “He has been a long-time advocate for legislation that would improve Medicare reimbursement practices for home medical equipment, and has led Congressional efforts to make sure that individuals who rely on home medical equipment in rural communities and other less-densely populated areas can get the products and services they need.”
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.
Price has had a bumpy road to HHS. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee tried to block his confirmation by the committee by boycotting a vote on Jan. 31 and again on Feb. 1, but Republicans changed the rules that required Democrats to be present for a quorum. The 14 Republican members of the committee then voted to confirm him.
In overseeing HHS, Price will 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.