Tom Price - a man staunchly opposed to Obamacare and a skeptic over whether the government should force parents to vaccinate their children - has been sworn in as Donald Trump’s Health Secretary
The Georgia Republican and orthopedic surgeon was confirmed 52-47 to oversee a department with a budget of more than $1 trillion.
Mr Price’s confirmation was marked by no small controversy. He was questioned repeatedly by senators over his views about vaccinating children.
The congressman belongs to a group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), which holds several unorthodox views and has described mandatory vaccination as “equivalent to human experimentation”.
He was also dogged by questions about his trading in hundreds of thousands of dollars in health company stocks while working on healthcare legislation. Reuters said that Democrats boycotted the committee vote on his nomination, saying he had made misleading statements. Mr Price has said his actions were legal and ethical.
Mr Price, in his new job, will have authority to rewrite rules implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Mr Price could move quickly to rework the law's regulations while waiting for Republicans in Congress to keep their pledge to scrap the law entirely.
“Having Dr Tom Price at the helm of HHS gives us a committed ally in our work to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said US House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has vowed to pass a new plan this year.
Mr Trump signed an order on his first day in office directing government agencies to freeze Obamacare regulations and take other steps to weaken the law, a directive that will fall largely on Price. Since then, the president has said that a replacement may not come until next year.