In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. For Conservatives, A New Day In Health Care

We talk with a leading expert about Republican ideas for reform. Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution says it’s a mistake to think conservatives have too few ideas — rather they have too many. (Jenny Gold, 1/25)

4. Republicans Standing Behind Price

KHN’s Julie Rovner is interviewed on WBUR’s “Here and Now” about the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the nomination of Rep. Tom Price to head HHS, as well as President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on the health law. (1/24)

7. Political Cartoon: 'Splinter Group?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Splinter Group?'" by John Deering from "Strange Brew".

Here's today's health policy haiku:


It’s tough talk for sure …
But the force of what follows
Is still taking shape.

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Summaries Of The News:

Administration News

8. Price Avoids Being Pinned Down On Details During Grilling At Second Senate Hearing

Despite Democrats pressing HHS nominee Tom Price on the future of the health law, Medicare and Medicaid, Price mostly demurred and downplayed the role he will have in such decisions. Ethical questions regarding the Georgia congressman's stock investments were also raised.

The New York Times: Tom Price’s Heated Hearing Is Unlikely To Derail His Nomination
In a heated confirmation hearing that focused on ethical issues, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, Representative Tom Price, defended his trading of medical and pharmaceutical stocks on Tuesday, saying, “Everything that I did was ethical, aboveboard, legal and transparent.” Democrats accused Mr. Price of a potential conflict of interest at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, saying he held more than $100,000 in stock in companies that could have benefited from legislation he promoted. Mr. Price, a Georgia Republican, denied any wrongdoing. (Pear and Kaplan, 1/24)

Bloomberg: Trump’s Health Pick Grilled On Stock Purchases At Key Hearing 
Democrats began a key hearing on President Donald Trump’s pick to overhaul Obamacare by attacking his aggressive investing in health-care companies, an attempt to derail the nomination by hammering on ethics even though Republicans can force a confirmation with a party-line vote. Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, slammed Georgia Representative Tom Price’s “abuse of his position” by buying privately offered shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. as Congress weighed bills that could affect his investments. Democrats need to persuade Republicans on the panel to oppose Price in order to block his appointment as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; so far they have defended Price, and none have indicated they’d vote him down. (Edney and Tracer, 1/24)

The Associated Press: Trump Health Pick Gives Dems Few Details On Health Overhaul
President Donald Trump's selection to become health secretary told a Senate committee Tuesday that the new administration believes people with existing illnesses should not be denied health insurance, but committed to no details on that or any aspects of how Republicans will reshape President Barack Obama's health care law. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who would be at the center of GOP efforts to scuttle Obama's statute and create new programs, frustrated Democrats probing for details of what Republicans will do. Instead, he repeatedly told them that the GOP goal is making health care affordable and "accessible for every single American" and to provide choices. (Fram and Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/24)

Reuters: Trump Health Nominee Says He Does Not Back Medicare Privatization
[Price] told a congressional panel on Tuesday that he does not support the privatization of Medicare and defended his ethics record. Speaking before the Senate Committee on Finance, one of two committees that oversee the health department, Representative Tom Price said his position was consistent with that of Trump, who has stated he does not want to cut the federal health program for the elderly. (Clarke and Cornwell, 1/24)

Morning Consult: Price Urges Medicare Reforms, Breaking With Trump
“The Medicare trustees … have told all of us that Medicare, in a very short period of time, less than 10 years, is going to be out of the kind of resources that will allow us as a society to keep the promise to beneficiaries,” Price said Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee. “We will not be able to provide the services to Medicare patients at that time — which is very, very close — if nothing is done.” (McIntire, 1/24)

The Washington Post: HHS Nominee Skirts Questions About Impact Of Trump’s Executive Order On ACA
President Trump’s choice for health secretary declined Tuesday to promise that no Americans would be worse off under Trump’s executive order to ease provisions of the Affordable Care Act — and distanced himself from the president’s claim to have an almost-finished plan to replace the law. At a testy Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) sought to play down the influence he would have on reshaping the health-care system along conservative lines, while attempting to deflect accusations from Democrats about his ethics. (Goldstein and Eilperin, 1/24)

Politico: Democrats Fail To Draw Blood From Price
The nominee to head HHS wouldn’t say if he would use the directive to scrap Obamacare’s unpopular requirement that most Americans get health coverage or pay a fine. Price also dodged questions about whether he backs converting Medicaid into block grants, despite supporting the idea as House Budget Committee chairman. And he gave vague assurances he wouldn’t “abandon” people with pre-existing conditions who can no longer be denied coverage under Obamacare while disputing a 2012 report that quoted him criticizing the law's requirement that insurers cover that population. (Cancryn, 1/24)

CQ Roll Call: Price Backs Shifting Control Of Health Funds To States
Democrats argued that Price's approach would result in many Americans losing their access to medical care. Lawmakers and Price tussled intensely over the future of Medicaid, which serves more than 70 million people, or more than one-fifth of the U.S. population. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the Trump administration appears to be “creating a war on Medicaid,” referring to recent comments such as those from the president’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway in favor of block grants. (Young, 1/24)

Los Angeles Times: Trump's Health Secretary Pick Faces Scrutiny Over Reform Plans In Round 2 Of Senate Hearings
Democrats on the finance panel repeatedly quizzed Price about what would happen to patients. Price kept his answers vague. In a round of questions about Medicare, Sen. Bob Menendez  (D-N.J.) asked: “Are you willing to commit that we won’t see increased costs or less coverage for seniors under a revision of Medicare that you might advocate or that the president might pursue?” Price responded: “Our goal is to make certain that seniors have access to the highest quality healthcare possible at an affordable price.” (Levey, 1/24)

The Wall Street Journal: HHS Nominee Says Congress Will Determine New Health System
Mr. Trump has sent sometimes conflicting messages about the stamp he intends to place in shaping the debate over repealing the ACA, urging Congress to act quickly but also saying he has his own plan that he intends to release soon. Mr. Price declined to say whether he would hold back on acting on Mr. Trump’s executive action until Republicans had coalesced around any replacement for the law. Asked by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado if Republicans’ proposals to repeal the ACA also included repealing the law’s expansion of Medicaid, he replied: “I, if I’m fortunate to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will carry out the law that you pass. That’s a decision that you all will make.” (Radnofsky and Armour, 1/24)