WASHINGTON Feb 10 The U.S. Senate voted on
Friday to confirm Representative Tom Price as the top U.S.
healthcare official, putting a determined opponent of Obamacare
in position to help President Donald Trump dismantle the
The Senate voted 52-47 to approve the conservative Georgia
Republican and orthopedic surgeon as the secretary of the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a massive
department with an annual budget of more than $1 trillion.
In his new job, Price will have authority to rewrite rules
implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is
officially called. Price could move quickly to rework Obamacare
regulations while waiting for Republicans in Congress to keep
their pledge to scrap the law entirely.
Republicans, who have the majority in Congress, are trying
to craft a replacement for Obamacare but have not agreed on one.
Twenty million Americans gained health insurance under the law.
Price's nomination was dogged by questions about his trading
in hundreds of thousands of dollars in health company stocks
while working on healthcare legislation. Democrats boycotted the
committee vote on his nomination, saying he had made misleading
statements about shares he bought. Price says his actions were
legal and ethical.
A member of the House of Representatives since 2005 and
currently chairman of the budget committee, Price is the author
of legislation to repeal Obamacare and replace it with
age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of health insurance.
Democrats criticized Price for his stock trading as well as
his opposition to Obamacare, his ideas about restructuring the
Medicare program for the elderly, and his support for cutting
federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a women's healthcare
organization that provides abortions.
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees
Medicare and Medicaid, the government health insurance program
for the poor. It also encompasses the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing
by Robert Birsel)