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8. Political Cartoon: 'Barreled Up?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Barreled Up?'" by Mike Lester.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

SLAVITT TAKES TO TWITTER TO DEFEND HEALTH LAW

Two can play at that
Game: CMS head employs
Well-known Trump tactic.

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Summaries Of The News:

Administration News

9. Price Promises Not To 'Pull The Rug Out' From Under Americans, But Offers Few Details On Replacement

At a four-hour hearing, Donald Trump's nominee for HHS secretary backed away from the incoming president's promises of insurance for everyone, but set lofty goals for his own replacement plans.

The New York Times: Choice For Health Secretary Is Vague On Replacing Affordable Care Act
Representative Tom Price, the man President-elect Donald J. Trump has chosen to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, promised on Wednesday to make sure people do not “fall through the cracks” if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, and set a goal to increase the number of people with health insurance But at a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Mr. Price provided only vague reassurance to members of both parties who pressed him for specific policies. (Pear and Kaplan, 1/18)

The Associated Press: Price Tries To Reassure On Health Care; Dems Not Buying It
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that Trump is "absolutely not" planning to launch an overhaul of Medicare as he tries to revamp coverage under President Barack Obama's signature health care law. He acknowledged that high prescription drug costs are a problem, but did not endorse the idea of government directly negotiating prices. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Fram, 1/18)

The Washington Post: HHS Nominee Price Pressed Hard On Health Policy Positions, Financial Dealings
Price began by laying out central elements of his years-long attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. In doing so, he signaled ways in which Trump’s more populist message could collide with the core beliefs of congressional Republicans. He told senators that “it is absolutely imperative” for the government to ensure that all Americans “have the opportunity to gain access” to insurance coverage — a more modest goal than the “insurance for everybody” declaration that the incoming president made this past weekend. (Eilperin and Goldstein, 1/18)

Los Angeles Times: Trump's Pick For Health Secretary Tells Senators He Will Protect The Vulnerable, But Doesn't Say How
During a testy four-hour hearing on Capitol Hill — which also featured several heated exchanges about Price’s ethics — Price also repeatedly dodged questions from Democrats seeking assurance that he would preserve basic protections required by law. Among other things, Obamacare bans lifetime limits on coverage, requires that health plans offer basic benefits such as substance abuse treatment and mandates that plans allow parents to keep their children on their insurance until they are 26. (Levey, 1/18)

Modern Healthcare: Price Promises Access, But Not Insurance For Everyone 
Republicans referenced the replacement plan Trump alluded to over the weekend but offered no new details, and some in the party reportedly are not sure Trump's plan actually exists. Price said he shared Trump's goal of coverage for everyone and believed the Republicans' plan would accomplish that. But he emphasized the importance of access to coverage and the financial feasibility to buy it, dodging a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about whether healthcare is a right. (Muchmore, 1/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Key Republicans At Tom Price Hearing Still Wary On Health Law Repeal
A hearing on President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for health secretary became an arena Wednesday for key Republicans to stress their opposition to overturning the current health law without a clear replacement. ... Mr. Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, warned that the fragile insurance market in his state means he cannot support anything that would trigger further disruption. He finished on a similar note, telling Mr. Price he was confident he had secured his agreement. (Armour and Radnofsky, 1/18)

The Hill: Five Takeaways From Price's Confirmation Hearing
Price kept his cards close to his chest, parrying questions from Democrats by speaking in broad terms about wanting to provide access to healthcare coverage while providing few details. Here are five takeaways from the hearing. (Sullivan and Hellmann, 1/18)

The Fiscal Times: Tom Price Makes A Big Claim: People Won’t Get Shafted On Health Care
Questioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) about Trump’s intentions to keep his campaign promises to safeguard Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Price said that while he hasn’t had extensive discussions with Trump about those comments, “I have no reason to believe that he has changed his position.” “So you are telling us that to the best of your knowledge, Mr. Trump will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Sanders persisted. “As I say, I have no reason to believe that position has changed,” Price replied. (Pianin, 1/18)

Stat: Tom Price Sidesteps Question On Medicare Drug-Pricing Negotiations
Congressman Tom Price, the Republican nominated by Trump to lead HHS, was asked by Democratic lawmakers whether he would agree to support empowering Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies. After initially sidestepping those questions, he seemed to suggest that the policy would at least be considered, given Trump’s outspoken support for it, but he expressed no enthusiasm for the proposal. (Scott, 1/18)