Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Tom Price got into a heated exchange during his confirmation hearing for Health and Human Services Secretary, when he refused to say whether he'll cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid.
A frustrated Senator Warren asked Rep. Price direct questions about his own policy prescriptions, but he refused to give a definitive answer, even about the cuts he has repeatedly called for.
Sen. Warren discussed his calls to cut funding and asked, "You recently authored as chair of the House Budget Committee would have cut spending on Medicare by $449 billion dollars over the next decade, is that right?
Rep. Price replied, "I don't have the numbers in front of me."
She replied, "I have the numbers."
He said, "I assume you're correct."
If there is one thing certain, it's that Rep. Price knows the numbers Sen. Warren speaks of since he proposed them many times.
Sen. Warren continued, "So you'd cut Medicare by $449 billion dollars.Your 2017 budget proposal also would have cut Medicaid funding that goes to the state governments by more than $1 trillion. is that correct?
Rep. Price refused to answer and tried to change the subject on his beliefs rather than the facts.
He said, "I think Senator, Senator, the metrics that we use for the success of these programs..."
Warren cut in, "I'm just asking, it's an easy yes or no. -- did you propose to cut a trillion dollars from Medicaid?
He said, "What we believe that is appropriate..."
Warren said, " Do you want me to read you the number out of this?"
He replied, "I'm sure you're correct. What we believe is appropriate is to make certain that the individuals receiving the care actually receiving the care."
Warren jumped in,. "I understand why you think you're right to cut it. I'm just asking the question, did you propose to cut more than a trillion dollars out of Medicaid over the next ten years?"
Price replied, "You have the numbers before you."
Warren asked, "Is that a yes"
Price reiterated, "You have the numbers before you."
Warren laughed and said, "I'll take it as a yes."
Sen. Warren then brought up Trump's positions on both health care plans, in which he states there will be no cuts to the programs, funding-wise. She asked if Trump was telling the truth and he replied, "yes."
Warren cornered him on his proposals again and tried to get him to commit not to cut funding from Medicare and Medicaid, but all he wanted to talk about was "metrics."
Warren said, "Can you guarantee to this committee that you will safeguard president-elect Trump's promise and while you are HHS secretary, you will not use your authority to carry out a single dollar of cuts to Medicare or Medicaid eligibility or benefits?"
Price said, "What the question presumes is that money is the metric. In my belief from a scientific standpoint, if patients aren't receiving care even though we're providing the resources, it doesn't work for patients."
Warren said, "We're very limited on time. The metric IS money. The President-elect...said he would not cut dollars from this program. So that's the question I'm asking you. Can you assure this committee you will not cut one dollar from Medicare or Medicaid should you be confirmed to this position?
Price replied, "I believe that the metric ought to be the care that the patients are receiving."
Warren said, "I'll take that as a no."
Price replied, "That's the wrong metric... we ought to be putting forth the resources."
Warren said, "I'm asking you a question about dollars, yes or no?"
Price replied, "We should put forward the resources to take care of the patient."
Warren said, "Frankly, the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid today are not going to be very reassured by your notion that you have a metric other than the dollars that they need to provide these services."
Whatever one believes, cutting monies from the programs will not help it in anyway and Rep. Price's refusal to even acknowledge that he's proposed these massive cuts is troubling to say the least.