Week ahead: Price takes charge at HHS

Week ahead: Price takes charge at HHS
© Greg Nash

Tom Price has been confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services, setting the stage for action on ObamaCare to heat up.

Republicans have pointed to regulatory moves that Price can make on his own as a key part of their ObamaCare strategy.

President Trump has also said that he'd put forward his own healthcare plan shortly after Price was confirmed.

But it is still unclear what exactly will end up happening. Trump said Friday that his administration is getting down to the "final strokes" on healthcare.

Price will now be overseeing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the administration works on a new "market stabilization" regulation.

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That effort is being closely watched by insurers and other healthcare players for any signals it will send on how officials will handle ObamaCare in the interim period before it is repealed.  

Another key official to serve under Price will have a confirmation hearing on Thursday, when the Senate Finance Committee considers the nomination of Seema Verma to be head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Verma is sure to be grilled by Democrats over her views on Medicaid, given that she has helped several states make conservative changes to the program.

CMS also oversees ObamaCare, which would put Verma in the center of the ongoing fight over the healthcare law.

The House is looking to get moving on its ObamaCare legislation with committee votes in early March and passage by the full chamber by the end of that month. But that is an ambitious timeline and many details still need to be worked out.

Conservatives have become more vocal in calling for the process to move quickly to ensure that the repeal timeline does not slip.

A major unanswered question, though, is what will happen to the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare. Republican senators from states that accepted the expansion have begun meeting to try to figure out a path forward.

 

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