After a long, and somewhat tumultuous, confirmation process Tom Price has been sworn in as the new Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS). Trump's HHS appointment was one of the most closely followed cabinet posts, as this position is sure to take the lead in dismantling Obamacare (ACA) under the new administration. An orthopaedic surgeon, Price was looked upon favorably by Republicans to take on this tremendous task. However, Price came under fire by Senate Democrats during his confirmation hearing for investments he made in medical and pharmaceutical companies while serving as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and on the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, both having oversight duties in the health care industry.
In an unprecedented move, Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee boycotted the committee vote to advance Price's nomination to the Senate Floor for a full chamber vote. In rebuttal to the Democrats' boycott, Republicans members of the committee voted to temporarily lift a requirement that at least one Democrat be in attendance when voting on an executive branch nominee, and unanimously decided to support Price's advancement. Once in front of the full Senate, Price was successfully confirmed as Secretary by a party-line vote of 52-47.
Now that Price has been confirmed, his first task will be to work with Congressional Republicans on a repeal and replace plan for Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA). Price has been a fierce opponent of the ACA, favoring a plan that would cutback federal insurance, giving states more authority. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Price supported legislation to move Medicare away from its open-ended payment for medical services and shift toward a fixed government contribution. Price also supports fixed block grants from the federal government to states to provide healthcare for low-income people on Medicaid.
While Price will take the helm at HHS, he will still need Congressional approval for any major changes to take place to the U.S.'s healthcare law, including the repeal of Obamacare.