Senate Finance Committee approves Leavitt as HHS secretary

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The Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Mike Leavitt as Health and Human Services secretary on Tuesday, paving the way for full Senate confirmation in the upcoming days.

Healthcare advocates fear that Leavitt's nomination could spell cutbacks in Medicaid, which provides the majority of funding at nursing homes. Last week, Leavitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator and former governor of Utah, testified before the committee that he would not rule out Medicaid budget cuts.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) said Wednesday that working with the new Secretary to improve care at nursing homes will be a top legislative and policy priority.

"We are confident Governor Leavitt will be a strong partner in ensuring our most vulnerable citizens receive the care they need and deserve," said Hal Daub, president and chief executive officer of AHCA.