UPDATE: Republicans push Price’s confirmation through committee

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WASHINGTON – The 14 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee have voted to confirm Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., as secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, according to news reports.

Price’s confirmation now goes to the Senate floor for a full vote, likely next week.

Democrats on the committee tried to block the confirmation for a second day by boycotting the vote, but Republicans changed the rules that required Democrats to be present for a quorum, Reuters reported.

Democrats made headlines on Jan. 31, when they boycotted the vote on Price scheduled to take place at 10 that morning, saying they wanted more time to ask questions about his background. An article in the Wall Street Journal this week reported that Price received a special discounted rate for stocks of an Australian pharmaceutical company named Innate Immunotherapies.

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.