Steven Brill Jan 18, 2017
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How Tom Price could pull plug on health care savings

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

If Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price survives the conflict of interest and insider trading charges swirling around him as his confirmation hearings start today, he will soon have the power to eliminate the Obama administration's cost-savings initiatives that have been bitterly opposed by the most powerful players in the health care industry.

Why this will happen and what it means:

  • Price opposed the cost control programs while a member of Congress.
  • Killing them wouldn't take legislation — he simply has to cancel the Obama team's experiments under the Affordable Care Act aimed at cutting the fees Medicare pays.
  • It would be the ignominious end to a central, if not wholly successful, part of Obamacare's strategy to rein in health-care costs.

Although Price declined through a spokesperson to say whether he will scrap the initiatives, his record as a Republican congressman from Georgia makes it clear that he'll do so quickly. In fact, the Obama administration already ended one program because, according to one administration official, it was obvious Price was going to kill it anyway. More details on the scope of the program and what will end below.