On February 10 2017 the Senate approved Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a party-line vote of 52 to 47 (with one senator, Claire McCaskill (D-MO), abstaining).

During the nearly 30-hour debate that preceded the vote, a number of Republican senators voiced their strong support for Price, describing him as a healthcare leader in the House of Representatives and highlighting his roles in Congress as chair of the House Budget Committee and a member of the House Ways and Means Health Sub-committee. Several Republican members also emphasised his experience as an orthopaedic surgeon, including Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY), who asked "who better than a doctor to head an organization" that oversees the majority of the country's healthcare programmes?

In contrast, Democrats expressed opposition to Price's nomination and, during the debate leading up to the vote, reiterated their concerns about his stockholdings in certain healthcare companies and his views regarding the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare.

Price was sworn in on February 10 2017, stepping into the role as President Trump's leader at the HHS. It is anticipated that Price will focus on Affordable Care Act repeal, replace and repair efforts, as well as potentially addressing the Medicare and Medicaid programmes. While the secretary is expected to take swift administrative action relating to the Affordable Care Act in particular, the precise shape of the regulatory changes he may pursue remains to be seen.

For further information on this topic please contact Stephanie P Hales, Dora Hughes, Laura R Cohen or Meghan F Weinberg at Sidley Austin LLP by telephone (+1 202 736 8000) or email (shales@sidley.com, dhughes@sidley.com, laura.cohen@sidley.com or mweinberg@sidley.com). The Sidley Austin website can be accessed at www.sidley.com.

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