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Confirmation Hearing for HHS Pick Tom Price; Trump Executive Order Advances Controversial Oil Pipelines; Trump to Nominate Supreme Court Justice This Week. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 25, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] SEN. BEN CARDIN, (D), MARYLAND: It also has been expanded to include the selling of E-cigarettes, et cetera. I know, initially, you do not support that legislation. If confirmed, can you commit to us that you would rigorously enforce that act to make sure, particularly, our children are not subjected to the new forms of tobacco products.

PRICE: Yeah, the response -- if -- if I'm confirmed, the responsibility that we will have is to enforce the law of the land and we'll do so.

CARDIN: What it also requires, the keeping up with new technologies that are being used by the industry that may require modifications, as we see with e-cigarettes. Are you prepared to not only enforce the law, but to enforce our intent to make sure our children are protected?

PRICE: I look forward to working with you Senator on just that.

CARDIN: I want to -- I was listening to some of the exchanges as it relates to the Affordable Care Act and we'll continue to debate the merits of the Affordable Care Act. I am a strong supporter of it. I think the millions of people who have coverage that didn't have it before, the quality of coverage that Americans now have that they didn't have before and the rate of growth of our health care premiums are far lower than it would have been, but for the act, we'll debate that later.

The question is what do we -- what do we -- what's coming along? We've heard you say several times the principles that the president has articulated, as to what would be in place of the Affordable Care Act.

I'd like to drill down, a little bit if I could, on the central health benefits. We've talked about preventive care now being available. We know that we have now mental health and addiction services that are available. We also know we have oral health -- pediatric dental, that's now available, which is particularly important in my state because of the tragic loss of the Deamonte Driver in 2007.

Can you assure us that, as you look at what will be the health care system moving forward. That you're prepared to make sure that Americans have quality insurance coverage to deal with issues such as preventive care, mental health services, addiction services and pediatric dental? PRICE: What I can commit to you, Senator, is -- is that we will do all that we can within the department with the -- the incredible knowledge and expertise that is there, to define whether or not the program is -- is actually working as intended or not. If coverage equals care, in many instances I would suggest that -- that folks -- many individuals right now have -- have coverage; they've have a card, but don't have any care because they can't afford the deductible that allows them to get the care.

So we're committed to making certain the system works, not just for government, not just for the insurance companies, but for the patients.

CARDIN: And as you know, we eliminated any co-pays on preventive care, but we can talk about the specifics going forward. I look forward to those discussions.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

PRICE: Thank you.

HATCH: Thank you Senator.

Senator Isakson.

ISAKSON: Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Tom, secretary to be, Tom, let me ask you a few yes or no questions. You have been asked a lot of them with the intent of trying to get you to say yes that you're gonna cut Medicaid when you're not gonna cut Medicare, you're gonna try to improve it and reform. But yes or no to these questions.

Question number one, we've been hearing about the joint replacement problem that Secretary Burwell launched in 2015. You and many others have raised concerns about this program saving money, that it could actually harm the quality of patient care. So in other words, wasn't this an administrative action by HHS that actually cut Medicare benefits?

PRICE: Potentially, yes.

ISAKSON: Second, last year, HHS proposed a new way of paying for cancer drug, so as to reduce Medicare spending on these drugs. Many of us oppose this from our side of the aisle as well as the other. We were concerned it would cut cancer patients benefits and more often, it would be a cut to the Medicare benefits to seniors; is that correct?

PRICE: I believe that's correct, yes.

ISAKSON: Last one, what about all the recent changes HHS has made to cut Medicare payments to Medicare Advantage. Nearly one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries are on Medicare advantage. Wouldn't these cuts also break the pledge of not cutting Medicare? PRICE: I believe so.

ISAKSON: My point being, any one of us can sit at this dais and say give me yes or no answers and demonstrate the point we want to make, but did all of us -- Republican and Democrat alike who are interested in saving social security for our seniors, making Medicare work and saving taxpayers money in the United States of America. Isn't that true? PRICE: Absolutely.

ISAKSON: One other point, any one of us can take a financial disclosure. Something called desperate impact, where you take two facts, one over here and one over there to make a wrong. Any one of us could do it to disrupt or misdirect people's thoughts on somebody -- its been happening to you a lot because you've taken -- people have taken things that you've disclosed and trying to extrapolate some evil that would keep you from being secretary of HHS, when it fact it shouldn't be sure.

For example, if you go to Senator Wyden's annual report, he owns an interest in BlackRock Floating Rate Income Fund. The major holding of that fund is Valeant Pharmaceuticals. They're the people we jumped all over for 2,700 percent increases last year in pharmaceutical products. But we're not accusing the Ranking Member of being for raising pharmaceutical prices, but you could take that extrapolation out of that and then indict somebody and accuse them.

Is that not true?

PRICE: I think that's correct, yes, sir.

ISAKSON: So in the point of that, we ought to in the end -- in the end, be looking for the best person, man, or woman for the job and not trying to trick them into agreeing to something that's wrong, but in fact letting them ask you the programs that improve Medicare for the American people?

PRICE: Yes, sir.

ISAKSON: I thank you for your time and I reserve the rest of my time.

WYDEN: Point of personal privilege, Mr. Chairman.

HATCH: Senator Wyden.

WYDEN: I do not trade in health care stocks.

HATCH: OK. Senator, would you care to...

ISAKSON: My only point to -- to the senator from Oregon is you do have mutual funds like most of us have. The mutual funds have holdings in pharmaceuticals, many of one of them -- one of them (ph) you did. But nobody should accuse somebody of being -- holding pharmaceutical stocks if they have a mutual fund by pulling that...

WYDEN: Mr. Chairman, to continue on this point of personal privilege, mutual funds in particular, by independent experts, ethics experts are considered in a completely different category than personal trading in stocks. Even past Republican ethics experts make that same point and they have never seen anything like the congressman has engaged in.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

HATCH: Senator Brown.

BROWN: Thanks, Mr. Chairman.

And welcome, Congressman Price.

PRICE: Thank you, Senator.

BROWN: I was troubled by your response to Senator Wyden when he asked the question, will you commit -- if you repeal the Affordable Care Act, will you commit that no one will lose insurance, that's 22 million Americans, almost one million in my state. He asked, will you commit that no one who loses -- will lose their insurance. And you ignored the question and responded that no one who lost their insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and to my knowledge that's two to four million people and almost all of them ended up getting reinsured. You said that no one who lost their insurance on the Affordable Care Act will basically lose it after they've been reinstated.

So you pretty much ignored the 22 million, and that's -- that's the problem we all face. But I want to ask you about something else. I -- if you're confirmed, I -- I -- obviously, you'll play a role in the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I'd like to ask you yes or no questions and they really are yes or no questions. They're not meant as a trap.

Margarite (ph) is from Lyndhurst, Ohio. She suffers from a chronic condition. She was turned down by insurance companies for 25 years before the ACA. She'll lose her insurance if the ban against discrimination based on existing conditions is weakened. My question is, if you're confirmed, will you maintain the current scope of the law and continue to vigorously enforce the law's ban against discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions? Yes or no?

PRICE: I commit to you that we will -- we will not -- we will not abandon individuals with pre-existing illness or disease.

BROWN: Thank you. Victoria's from Buckeye Lake, Ohio. As a senior on Medicare, she relies on free preventive services provided by the ACA. Will you commit to insuring seniors like Victoria, who rely on Medicare, continue to get their preventive care, no co-pays, no deductibles, continue to get preventive care with no out of pocket costs? Yes or no?

PRICE: Preventive care is and -- and wellness care is absolutely vital for -- for so many members of our population.

BROWN: That's part of ACA; you'll commit to that?

PRICE: And I believe it's a part of health care and health coverage...

BROWN: And we did that -- I don't mean to be rude. We did that under the ACA.

Grace is from Westlake, Ohio, she's 24. She is diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma. In 2015, she's still on her parent's health insurance, which was purchased through the ACA marketplace and benefits from the ACA's ban on annual lifetime coverage maximums. Her first three months of treatment cost $800,000. As secretary of HHS, if an insurer asks you for an exception to the current ban on out of pocket maximums as provided in Friday's executive order, will you commit to stand up for patients like Grace and refuse to grant any insurer this exception?

PRICE: I -- as I mentioned, I think patients ought to be at the center and our goal is to make sure that every single patient has access to the highest...

BROWN: I don't want it as your goal. I want you to commit that you will stand firm, as the ACA does, on this provision of -- of canceling care -- canceling insurance because they're too expensive.

PRICE: As I said, nobody ought to lose their insurance because they get a bad diagnosis.

BROWN: Alice is from Bethel, Ohio. Prior to the ACA, she could not afford a preferred method of birth control. Now thanks to the law, she benefits from covered contraceptive coverage. Are you able to set aside any personal political views and protect the doctor- patient relationship by committing to ensure every woman's right to access the form of contraception deemed best for her by her doctor at no cost as currently provided in the ACA?

PRICE: I -- I think that women -- that contraception is absolutely imperative for many, many women and the system that -- that we ought to have in place is one that allows women to be able to purchase the kind of contraception that they desire between their...

BROWN: As -- as the law is now with the ACA. Thank you.

President Trump said he's working with you on a replacement plan for the ACA, which is nearly finished and will be revealed after your confirmation. Is that true?

PRICE: It's true that he said that. Yes.


BROWN: So did -- not that he's ever done this before, but did the president lie? Did the president lie about this, that he's not working with you? He said he's working with you, is that, I know we don't use the word lie here, because we're polite when presidents say statements that aren't true, but did he lie to the public about working with you?

PRICE: I've had conversations with the president about health care, yes. BROWN: Which wasn't quite the answer.

So -- do you -- will you commit with this president's plan? Do you commit to maintain the protections for those Ohioan's you just committed to in the replacement plan?

PRICE: Our -- our commitment is -- is to make certain that every single American has access to the highest quality coverage and care possible.

BROWN: I'm still not sure if the president lied -- not to you, but to us, the public, about whether he's actually working with you. It sounds like he did.

Last series of questions, briefly Mr. Chairman. I want to -- I want to find out about the Children's Health Insurance Program.

You said last week to staff that it's been a remarkably successful program. You once earlier had said, it sounds like socialized medicine to you. I don't quite know what that means.

Ninety-five percent of children in America are currently insured. I know the Chairman's interest in the -- in CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program. Ninety-five percent of American's insured, now partly because of Medicaid expansion, partly because of CHIP. You discussed the importance of using the right metrics.

So here's -- my question is this, funding for CHIP, I think you know, it is set to expire in September. If -- if confirmed, would you advise the president to support an extension of CHIP and the Pediatric Quality Measures Program beyond September of this year? PRICE: This is a -- absolutely, but I want to expand a little bit because after last week's hearing in the Health Committee, the same question was asked about whether -- about me quoting me on -- on saying that CHIP was socialized medicine. And so I went back and looked at that article and as so often happens as you well know -- this may have never happened to you, but it was a characterization in the article by the author of the article to push a political point of view.

And I knew that was the case because I rarely if ever use that word. I talk about patients as being the focus, I don't talk about government being...

BROWN: I -- I -- I that's fine. I want to ask you specifically on CHIP. Are you willing -- last week MACPAC submitted a report to Congress, advising we extend the current CHIP program and the quality measures program for five more years, do you agree with this?

PRICE: I think that CHIP -- the CHIP program with -- with policy makers has to be looked at and I believe it ought to be extended.

BROWN: For five years?

PRICE: Well, if we could extend it for eight, probably be better than five.


Thank you Mr. Chairman.

HATCH: Well, thank you Senator.

Let's -- let's go to Senator Portman.

PORTMAN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I have a lot of questions, so I'm glad you're letting people go a couple minutes over because I may need that time.

(UNKNOWN): Have not.

HATCH: We've been letting the other side go a couple minutes over. We're not gonna let our side go a couple of minutes over.

PORTMAN: OK. Well, I'd like that time back.


First of all Dr. Price, thank you very much for your willingness to serve, we need you.

CARDIN: And as you know, we eliminated any co-pays on preventive care but we can talk about the specifics going forward. I look forward to those discussions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.



Senator Isakson?

SEN. JOHNNY ISACKSON, (R), GEORGIA: Thank you Mr. Chairman.

[11:32:41] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to break away from the hearing, the Senate Finance Committee hearing, the confirmation hearing for Tom Price to become the next secretary of Health and Human Services.

Over at the White House, President Trump has just signed some more executive actions, what they're being called, including, Jake, on the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines. We're about to get the videotape from the pool, the video of his latest actions in the White House.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And there has been a clamoring by opponents of Donald Trump that he holds stocks that are related to the Keystone Pipeline. I'm not sure about the Dakota Pipeline.

Oh, here's the tape.

BLITZER: Here's the tape. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is with regard to the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, something that's been in dispute, and it's subject to a renegotiation of terms by us. We are going to renegotiate some of the terms. And if they'd like, we'll see if we can get that pipeline built. A lot of jobs. 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs.

OK, Keystone Pipeline.

This is with respect to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Dakota Access Pipeline. Again, subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us.

[11:34:50] OK. This is construction of pipelines in this country. We are, and I am, very insistent that if we're going to build pipelines in the United States, the pipes should be made in the United States. So, unless there's difficulties with that -- because companies are going to have to save Europe. Much pipeline is built from other countries. From now on, we're going to start making pipeline in the United States. We build it in the United States. We build the pipelines. We want to build the pipes. Going to put a lot of workers, a lot of steel workers back to work.

All right, we will build our own pipeline. We will build our own pipes. That's what it has to do with. Like we used to, in the old days.

This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible, permitting process and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing. Many of the people that we've been meeting with over the last long period of time, but, yesterday, and others, the process is so long and cumbersome that they give up before the end. Sometimes it takes many, many years, and we don't want to that happen. And if it's a no, we'll give them give a quick no. And if it's a yes, it's like, let's start building.

The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled-up mess. Very unfair to people. That's a big one.

This is the expediting of environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects. We intend to fix our country, our bridges, our roadways. We can't be in an environmental process for 15 years if a bridge is going to be falling down or if a highway is crumbling. So, we're expediting environmental reviews and approvals.


Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any comment on the Standing Rock community? The protesters out there? CONWAY: Thank you, Press.


CONWAY: Thank you.


TRUMP: Sometime next week. I'll be making my decision this week. We'll be announcing next week. We have outstanding candidates and we will pick a truly great Supreme Court justice. But I'll be announcing it sometime next week.


TRUMP: Thank you all very much.



BLITZER: There you see President Trump signing five executive actions. The first one on the Keystone oil pipeline, allowing it to go forward, subject to new renegotiations. Then the Dakota Oil Pipeline, another executive action, saying that the pipes, the pipelines, Jake, will be built here in the United States, made in the USA. Streamlining regulations on environmental restrictions, and also expediting environmental reviews, so that bridges, infrastructure, highways, roadways, can be built. Five more executive actions taken by the president.

TAPPER: And he also said that he would be making his decision about a Supreme Court pick to fill that ninth vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court. He said he would be making his decision this week and making an announcement next week.

Just to put a button on what I was saying earlier before we ran the tape, Democrats and people who oppose the North Dakota Pipeline have jumped on the fact that in earlier financial disclosure forms, President Trump held stock in companies that will benefit from the building of the Dakota Pipeline. The spokeswoman for the then- candidate, now President Trump, Hope Hicks, has said that President Trump sold that stock, although we don't have anything to go by other than their word. But they did say he sold that stock.

The announcement of the Supreme Court pick, I think that's the biggest news out of what he just said. Because that is going to ignite a huge fight on Capitol Hill.

[11:40:01] BLITZER: And there's some finalists, but whoever is put forward, presumably, will generate that kind of fight. And unlike the confirmation process for the cabinet members, you need 60. You will need 60 votes in the United States Senate for confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. The Republicans have 52. They'll need a few Democrats to come along, as well. TAPPER: And the Senate Democratic leader, on Sunday, Chuck Schumer,

told me they would oppose anyone they thought was out of the mainstream. President Trump provided a list of 21 possible Supreme Court picks about three months ago. He said, are these people in the mainstream, and said he didn't have enough time to go over any name on that list. My guess is that a lot of Democrats, whoever he picks, they will find that person to be out of the mainstream. A lot of names that we're hearing about are definitely conservative judges, as one would expect, from a Republican president.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens on that front.

Gloria, all these five executive actions signed by the president just now, these are campaign commitments he made these commitments during the campaign. He's now living up to what he told the American voters he would do.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, none of them come as a surprise, at all, to any of us, but I don't think it's going to make the environmental community very happy. More than sort of any interest group so far, I think the environmental community understands that they have big fights on their hands.

The Keystone Pipeline, you know, the president, former president of the United States, Obama, did not prove it for environmental reasons. He thought it would get in the way of a global climate change deal that he was doing.

You have Native American tribes saying that the other pipeline is a threat to their water. The Dakota Pipeline is a threat to their water supply.

And expediting environmental reviews is something that the community will also oppose and will be upset by, because that he believes that you need these reviews before you start fixing things, because you need to look at what the repercussions will be.

And I think, however, that Donald Trump deserves some credit here, for doing what he said he was going to do. Honestly, this is what -- this is what the American public wants. They want their infrastructure fixed and they want it fixed quickly. And this paves the way for a massive infrastructure bill, which, by the way, the Democrats are going to propose before Donald Trump does.

TAPPER: The environmental community always takes issue with Republican presidents, because they come at it from a very different perspective. But I have to say, it's probably a nightmare for the environmental community that a developer is actually now the president of the United States. Because that's what they do, environmentalists, they battle developers, day in, day out. Now one of the biggest developers to ever achieve any sort of power is in the White House.


BORGER: But they said they're going to pay for the pipes, too. Not pay for them. That Americans are going to supply the pipes. Well, there's a bidding process that goes on, so who's going to be the --


MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The Obama State Department had actually green-lit the Keystone Pipeline after doing an environmental study. Look, Canada's going to find some way to ship this oil and it might actually be worse for the environment, but Obama, I think, because of his base, the environmentalists, did, you know, did not support Keystone. And now you have Donald Trump just yesterday, meeting with labor leaders. They like this deal. They like this order. So, you could be seeing this as part of Donald Trump's sort of reordering of coalitions, where Democratic-leaning labor unions are now more in the Trump camp.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And can we just take a step back a little bit and just note the imagery of the new Trump White House, once again, just like yesterday, it was just from morning to night, picture after picture after picture, aimed at sending a signal to the American people, I'm here, I'm at work, look, here I am in the oval office, look, here I am in the Roosevelt Room, look, here I am in the cabinet room, doing things, as you said, that he promised to do in the campaign. Look, that's today's imagery. I just want to say, just to sort of say what we were all saying here, yesterday, I think we saw a lot of the men who were in charge of the -- who have leading roles in the Trump White House, now we see a couple of women in the picture.


BORGER: Oh, look!

BASH: It's hard to imagine that that's an accident. Kellyanne Conway is somebody who is one of the senior advisers there. And Hope Hicks, to her right, has been with Donald Trump since day one, was part of the small band of brothers and sisters who tried to get him and successfully got him elected. But I think that is something that is noteworthy. In that, look, he has told people privately that he wants to be like Ronald Reagan in terms of his style. He liked his style. And Michael Dever, who really helped create the imagery of Ronald Reagan, would have -- is probably, you know, looking down from heaven saying, applause, applause, applause, you're doing pretty well on day two.

[11:45:03] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: To your point, Dana, he relishes having cameras at his beck and call.


This is -- for all the contention that there is between the press and this White House, and we've been reading a lot about that, he is certainly making good use of the fact that within the same building that he resides, is an entire press pool, that when he can call them in to -- I keep thinking, my god, if he had this ability when he was a real estate developer in New York, if he had the ability to bring the cameras in every time he signed something, he is relishing this a little bit. NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, yeah.

BORGER: It's Show-and-Tell a little bit. Don't you think?

HENDERSON: It is Show-and-Tell. It reminded me of a kindergarten teacher who's reading a storybook, the big bad Wolf is blowing down the house and showing it to the class. That's what he was doing.


HENDERSON: I think it absolutely works. It's very simple to understand. He's telling a story. He's showing everybody. People get to be a part of it. I think it's very effective.

LEWIS: The worst politicians are the ones who are great in person, great in private, but Trump, the fact that he loves the limelight, I think is more of a feature than a bust.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we've known for a while that he's good about the theater that encompasses politics. But the question is about the pipeline. He basically said, no pipeline unless it's U.S. Steel. The Keystone Pipeline is foreign steel and foreign oil. I don't know if Mr. Trump knew that, but these are facts that are going to come out.

We also have the thing about imminent domain. The GOP does not like innocent domain. I'm from Nebraska. Nebraska farmers and ranchers are not here for imminent domain. There's still a state's rights issue here. So, while he, yes, delivered on the promise of signing on the dotted line on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline, there are some other things that have to happen before this actually goes through.

TAPPER: I wonder what this means, also, in terms of the protests of the Dakota Pipeline.


TPPER: Because in the last few months of the Obama administration, that was a big story. The very emotional demonstrations by Native Americans and allies.


TAPPER: All going and stopping the construction or trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Pipeline. I wonder if this now means there's going to be a reigniting of the activism and protests there.

BASH: Hard to imagine it won't.

TAPPER: And what that will mean, and how it was very awkward and difficult for President Obama to deal with it. He ultimately dealt with it because the Army Corps of Engineers kind of overruled the people beneath them and said, we're suspending this for now, but that was just kicking the can down the road. HENDERSON: And whether it gets back into the culture war. Part of

their argument is that not only would this pipeline be damaging to the environment, but that it damages a culturally significant site. You imagine it's going to get into a back and forth with conservatives.

BLITZER: These signings were taking place just as Congressman Tom Price is continuing the confirmation process, the hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on various issues. It can be ethics issue, substantive issues involving Obamacare.

I want to play this exchange that Dr. Price had on his understanding, what the signing, the action that President Trump has already done, initial steps to repeal, eventually replace Obamacare. Listen to this.


SEN. RON WYDEN, (D), OREGON: Under the executive order, will you commit that no one will be worse off?

PRICE: What I commit to, Senator, is working with you and every single member of Congress to make certain that we have the highest quality health care and that every single American has access to affordable coverage.

WYDEN: That is not what I asked. I asked, will you commit that no one will be worse off under the executive order? You ducked the question. Will you guarantee that no one will lose coverage under the executive order?

PRICE: I guarantee you that the individuals that lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act, we will commit to making certain that they don't lose coverage under whatever replacement plan comes forward. That's the commitment I provide to you.


BLITZER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us, as well. He's an expert on the Affordable Care Act.

Sanjay, what's your understanding executive order that has now been signed by President Trump, an initial step. The fear among the supporters of Obamacare is it's more than just symbolic, it's going to hurt some folks.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORERSPONDENT: It's a little bit hard to fully understand what this executive order means, because it basically says there's authority now to remove any kind of burdens that the Affordable Care Act may have placed in various sectors of our society, insurance wise, or patient care. But it didn't define what the burdens were or what a maximum burden would be. I think a lot of that left is going to be left to Congressman Price, which I think is why the question was asked about would there be people who would lose coverage. And I think, you know, there's been a lot of data on this. This was sort of a loaded question, as you well know. The Congressional Budget Office has released estimates, if there's a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in year one of that repeal, year two, year three. They say some 30 million more people, within a few years, would not have health care coverage. I think that that's what was really getting at.

What Congressman Price has said to that question in the past -- he didn't really answer it today -- is that those numbers did not anticipate the replacement plan he has, and his replacement plan would not lead to that sort of loss of coverage. He has never said it wouldn't lead to loss of coverage at all.

[11:50:41] BLITZER: Sanjay, stand by. We're going back to the hearing.

But very quickly, Jake, what do you think? How is Congressman Price handling these questions, largely tough questions from the Democrats?

TAPPER: Tough questions from the Democrats, not so much from the Republicans. I think he's handling it well in terms of the theater of this. He insists he's done nothing wrong. I've not seen anything that will put his nomination in jeopardy. Ultimately, this is going to be a party line vote. Ultimately, Republicans will rally around him. He's very popular among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Of course, he has been a Republican congressman on the other side of Congress, on the House side, for several years. I can't imagine, even with these ethical concerns and even with Democrats, fighting the Obamacare repeal, tooth and nail, I can't imagine him not getting confirmed.

BLITZER: I agree.

Let's go back to the hearing right now.

PRICE: And I think it's important, individuals ought to be able to purchase the coverage they want.