Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Price Nomination

On Tuesday, January 24th, the Senate Finance Committee held a nearly four-hour long hearing during which Members questioned President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rep. Tom Prince (R-GA), on a range of healthcare issues. The confirmation hearing is the second for Price in less than a week, who appeared before the Senate HELP Committee on January 18th.

The hearing focused primarily on the Affordable Care Act and Rep. Price’s views on Medicare, Medicaid, and several other programs. During the hearing, Rep. Price was asked a series of questions by Sen. Thune (R-SD) regarding critical access hospitals and care in rural areas. In response, Rep. Price noted that “from a technological standpoint we are missing the boat in rural areas,” and that in healthcare “we put roadblocks up to the use of technology in rural areas.” Rep. Price also cited the success of critical access hospitals in Georgia using telemedicine to treat stoke patients, saying, “we could mirror that kind of technological expansion” elsewhere. 

In addition, Rep. Price made several comments of note regarding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), stating, “Innovation, in fact, is what leads to quality health care; it's what expands the ability of healthcare professionals to be able to treat patients.” He described CMMI as “a vehicle that might do just that.” Rep. Price subsequently stated, “CMMI has gotten off track a bit” noting that he opposes “mandatorily dictating” how physicians treat their patients. Rep. Price concluded his statement on CMMI by saying he “hopes we can move CMMI in a direction that makes sense for patients.”

During his closing remarks, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch praised Rep. Prices “impeccable reputation in medicine and in Congress” and suggested a vote out of Committee would occur in the near future, setting up a vote by the full Senate to confirm Rep. Price’s nomination.