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Congress Votes to Nominate Tom Price as HHS Secretary

Congress voted to nominate Representative Tom Price as Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services.

Affordable Care Act

Source: Thinkstock

- On February 1, House Representative Tom Price, R-Ga., was officially nominated as the Secretary for the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), according to the US News & World Report. The Senate Finance Committee moved forward with voting in Price despite Democratic Senators boycotting the vote.

“As Congress navigates the minefields of tax reform, healthcare reform and other vitally important matters, we need willing and competent partners to lead these crucial executive branch departments,” Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said regarding the nomination of Tom Price for HHS Secretary and Steven Mnuchin for the Treasury Department Secretary. “I believe these two nominees can and will provide the necessary leadership that will allow us to be successful in these many endeavors, and I look forward to their nominations being considered by the full Senate.”

The Republican-backed Senate Finance Committee blocked its rules that required at least one member of both parties to be present for voting in cabinet picks. The boycott was due to a number of issues brought up during the confirmation hearing including Tom Price’s financial investments in medical companies. Price will lead HHS into forming a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act before the major healthcare law is fully repealed.

Rep. Tom Price’s view for the future of medical coverage and the Affordable Care Act is ensuring that every American has access to healthcare. During confirmation hearings, Price stated that he would make “sure that people had access to the kinds of health care they wanted and the feasibility to pay for it.”

“Nobody is interested in pulling out the rug out from anyone,” Price stated at a confirmation hearing.

While the Republican-controlled Congress is planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that a minority - approximately 15 percent - of primary care physicians are in favor of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

As many as 74 percent of the 426 polled primary care doctors preferred to make deviations to the Affordable Care Act instead of completely repealing it. The survey was conducted throughout December 2016 and January 2017.

However, past research shows that primary care providers seem to have a split on whether the Affordable Care Act is advantageous to the healthcare field. Polls taken in early 2015 illustrated that 48 percent of providers believed the Affordable Care Act was beneficial for the healthcare industry and 52 percent claimed that the legislation was not advantageous.

With primary care providers standing right in the center of value-based care coordination, the study authors advise policymakers to consider the opinions of primary care physicians before making decisions on the Affordable Care Act.

Lawmakers will also need to consider meeting the needs of their constituents particularly health insurance consumers when creating a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. By the end of 2016, 6.4 million consumers had enrolled in health plans via the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had reported.

CMS stated that 4.31 million returning customers were signing up through the exchanges in December 2016 as well as more than 2 million new consumers. Demand was higher this open enrollment period than the last one for the health insurance exchanges.

“With a record 6.4 million consumers selecting plans for January 1, Americans are once again proving that Marketplace coverage is vital to them and their families,” Former HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell stated. “With most Marketplace consumers able to find coverage for less than $75 per month in premiums, uninsured Americans should join the millions of Americans who’ve already gone to HealthCare.gov to check out their options.”

Since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, approximately 20 million more Americans have gained healthcare coverage and access, which Congress will need to consider when creating a replacement plan. The newly appointed HHS Secretary Tom Price plans to ensure that every American has access to affordable health insurance coverage.

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