Tom Price, Health And Human Services Secretary Nominee, Courtesy Hearing : Shots - Health News Rep. Tom Price goes before a Senate panel for the first time since being picked to head Health and Human Services. Expect sharp questions about Medicare reform, drug prices and his stock portfolio.
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5 Things To Listen For At The Hearing With Trump's HHS Nominee

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5 Things To Listen For At The Hearing With Trump's HHS Nominee

5 Things To Listen For At The Hearing With Trump's HHS Nominee

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/510258056/510384026" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to one of Donald Trump's most politically important Cabinet picks. Georgia Congressman Tom Price goes before the Senate Health Committee today to make the case that he should be the next secretary of Health and Human Services. Price is a doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, in fact. And he's worked on budget and health care issues during his time in Congress.

He's been a vocal critic of Obamacare. So Democrats are sure to grill him about Republicans' plans to repeal and replace the law. And as NPR's Alison Kodjak reports, Price is also likely to face questions about his own finances.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Price's ethics reports show he traded in dozens of stocks while he served in Congress. Those include shares of pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers. Several news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, have reported that Price traded in those stocks while he sponsored legislation that could have increased their value. Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, is promising to ask Price a lot of questions.

PATTY MURRAY: We want to know who he met with and when, whether the transactions in question were initiated by a broker or by Congressman Price himself, what, if any, nonpublic information Congressman Price had when those transactions were made and exactly how much profit he made from each transaction.

KODJAK: Murray says the committee needs to ensure that Price was acting on behalf of the public rather than himself. That's the standard for all government employees. A Trump transition spokesman says Price's stocks are held in a broker-directed account, and the broker buys and sells without Price's knowledge. He also points out that some Democratic senators also hold individual company stocks in their portfolios. The spokesman says the Office of Government Ethics has determined that Price complied with congressional disclosure rules.

Along with ethics, Price is going to have to talk about the incoming administration's plans for Obamacare. Lawmakers have already taken steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And Price has been a vocal opponent of the law. He's proposed a replacement that would offer people tax credits to buy insurance on the private market. But those credits would often be smaller than the subsidies offered under Obamacare. Price's plan also promotes the use of tax-free health savings accounts to pay for medical costs.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who wants universal health care, says Price's ideas will result in fewer people being covered. He spoke to reporters yesterday just after meeting with the nominee.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: My major concern is that I believe his approach would make a difficult situation right now even worse.

KODJAK: And lurking in the background will be the words of President-elect Donald Trump, who said a few days ago that he too wants health care for everyone. But Trump didn't give any details on how that would happen. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.

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