In a contentious hearing Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) — Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary — over his proposal to cut to cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as his introduction of legislation that directly benefitted a company he held stock in.
Noting that more than 100 million Americans receive healthcare through the federal programs Medicare and Medicaid, Warren asked Price if he hopes to cut Medicaid funding by more than $1 trillion dollars, as his 2017 budget proposal suggests.
Price did not directly answer whether he proposed the trillion dollar cut, instead arguing the “metrics” of success for Medicare and Medicaid are “not necessarily the amount of money” put into the programs.
Warren refused to let Price dodge her question. “It’s a yes or no,” she pressed. “Did you propose to cut more than a trillion dollars out of Medicaid over the next ten years?”
“You have the numbers before you,” Price shot back.
“I’ll take it as a yes,” Warren replied. The Massachusetts senator then referenced Donald Trump’s campaign pledge not to cut funding to Medicare and Medicaid, asking Price if he can “guarantee” he “will safeguard president-elect Trump’s promise” regarding funding for those programs.
Price, once again, dodged the question. “Your question presumes that money is the metric,” Price began.
“I’m sorry to interrupt but we’re very limited on time,” Warren replied. “The metric is money.”
“Frankly, the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid today are not going to be reassured by your notion that you have some metric other than the dollars that they need to provide these services,” she continued, noting “Americans will be watching” to see if Price reneges on Trump’s campaign promise.
Warren then pressed Price about his stock holdings in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer that made several contributions to Price’s reelection campaign. In March 2016, six days after purchasing stock in Zimmer Biomet, Price introduced legislation in the House that directly benefited the company.
Warren took issue with Price’s argument that he was not the one “making those decisions” to buy stock in the company, noting the HHS nominee did not use a blind trust or passively managed mutual fund.
“So let’s just be clear, this is not just a stock broker, someone you pay to handle the paperwork,” Warren began. “This is someone who buys stock at your direction. This is someone who buys and sells the stock you want them to.”
“Not true,” Price said.
“Because you decide not to tell them” Warren asked. “Wink, wink, nod nod, and we’re all supposed to believe that?” The Massachusetts senator then asked Price directly if he took actions to benefit a company he owned stock in.
“I’m offended by the insinuation, senator,” Price replied.
“You may be offended, but here’s what you did,” Warren said, listing the multiple steps Price took to push the bill after he was notified of his stock holdings in the company.
Watch the contentious exchange below, via CNN: