Price confirmation hearing focuses on ACA replacement, investments

Democratic senators used the first confirmation hearing for Department of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to grill the surgeon-turned-lawmaker on how the administration plans to handle its promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The hearing, held Wednesday by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, focused largely on the Republicans' plan to “repeal and replace” President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. Many on the committee voiced concerns that the GOP is rushing to dismantle the law without new legislation to take its place.

"Nobody's interested in pulling the rug out from anybody," Price said. “I think there's been a lot of talk about individuals losing health coverage. That is not our goal or our desire, nor is it our plan."

Price also told lawmakers that there are no immediate plans in place to modify the Medicare program, and that the ACA replacement wouldn't interfere with the program, Politico reported. When pressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) about potential funding cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Price responded that “the care the patients are receiving” should be the focus of policies, rather than money.

The hearing also touched upon Price's investments in healthcare companies, which have come under fire from some lawmakers as being a conflict of interest. Price said that his trading is mostly handled by his broker, and denied that he benefitted from proposing legislation that would favor companies he invested in.

At least six Senators who sit on the two committees holding confirmation hearings for Price also hold shares of healthcare companies, according to Kaiser Health News.

A second hearing will be held Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee, which shares authority over the Department of Health and Human Services with the SELP committee. The finance committee will then vote on whether to recommend Price's confirmation.

Watch video of Price's SELP confirmation hearing here.