President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice for health secretary reaffirmed Republican goals to repeal and replace President Obama’s health reforms, facing down repeated attacks by Democrats over exactly what the GOP would do to change Obamacare under a Trump Administration.
“I think one of the important things that we need to convey to the American people is that nobody is interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody,” Price said at the first of two confirmation hearings.
“The American people need to appreciate that the last thing we need to do is go from a Democrat health care system to a Republican health care system,” Price told Senators, saying his goal is an “American health care system that represents the needs of all.”
Price was also quizzed repeatedly by Democrats about stock trades that he made on health companies, all but charging the Georgia Republican had illegally used insider information to make money.
“The fact of the matter is, I have had no conversations with my broker about any political activity at all,” Price told Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
“I didn’t know any of those trades were being made,” Price said. “All of those trades were being made without my knowledge.”
But Democrats didn’t buy that, directly accusing Price of getting inside information and telling his broker how to take advantage of that.
“This is someone who buys stocks at your direction,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“That’s not true,” Price interjected. “That’s not true, Senator,” as Price bluntly knocked down Warren’s suggestion that he had coordinated legislation and his stock purchases, in order to enrich himself.
“I’m offended by the insinuation, Senator,” Price said.
While Price repeatedly said the he did not direct his broker to buy certain stocks, he did learn about one from fellow GOP Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY).
Democrats said there should be further investigation, again sounding the alarm about insider trading, which Price calmly rebuffed.
The hearing took one unexpected turn into southern politics, as Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) asked Price about a resolution he supported back during his time in the Georgia legislature on “Confederate History Heritage Month.”
“I read the resolution with interest because of the phrase, ‘commemorating the time of southern independence,'” Kaine said.
“I haven’t thought about that in a long time, Senator,” Price said.
The Georgia Republican quickly turned Kaine’s query toward something else he did in the state legislature – helping to broker a deal that took a Confederate emblem off the Georgia state flag.
“We did so in a bipartisan way,” Price said, name-checking the current Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, who then was in the state legislature as well.
Price is not finished with the Q&A before the Senate; he goes before the Senate Finance Committee for testimony next week as well.