The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-0 to clear the nominations of Georgia Congressman Tom Price for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary Wednesday.
Both nominees passed muster after Republicans changed the committee rules allowing the vote to proceed with no Democrats present. Democrats boycotted the scheduled voting on Tuesday after being denied an extension to address ethic concerns with Price and Mnuchin.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Finance Committee, called the Democrats’ boycott “the most pathetic thing.” At the meeting, Hatch said, “we took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues.”
Price and Mnuchin are controversial Cabinet nominees named by President Donald Trump. The committee approved Mnuchin despite Democrat concerns about the Wall Street executive’s tenure as head of Pasadena’s OneWest Bank. They also questioned whether he misled the committee in his answers about foreclosures.
The committee moved physician and Sen. Price forward, despite Democrat scrutiny after reports showed Price’s business transactions were closely linked to his advocacy for legislation or CMS regulations. Moreover, senators were skeptical of Price’s stock purchases that were made before he sponsored a bill to delay a bundled payment program for joint replacements.
In addition to opposing bundled payment programs, Price has not been on-board with healthcare’s transition to value-based care. Price also has been known for his anti-abortion stance, opposing free birth control, and opposing a law that bars employers from firing a woman for having an abortion or using birth control.
Although Price voted for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, he has criticized its implementation along with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation under the ACA.
If Price is confirmed as HHS secretary, he will work with lawmakers to continue the repeal of the ACA and implement an effective replacement plan.
W. Steve Love, president and CEO of the Dallas–Fort Worth Hospital Council, says hospitals strive for a very positive working relationship with the HHS Secretary.
“Dr. Price through his service as a physician brings knowledge, experience and understanding of the complex healthcare delivery system,” Love told D CEO Healthcare. “His career in serving patients, interacting with rules and government regulations and navigating the reimbursement system will certainly be helpful in his leadership role of shaping our healthcare policy for the future.”