cloudy
Wednesday February 10th, 2016 9:32PM

HHS nominee faces GOP questions on health law

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's nominee for health secretary faced pointed questioning Thursday from Republican senators over the president's health law but also won GOP praise in her first appearance before a Senate committee.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who will take over implementation of "Obamacare" if she is confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary, told senators that the law has improved the economy, held down the growth of health costs, reduced premiums and expanded coverage.

The law "is making a positive difference," Burwell, who now serves as Obama's budget director, said in testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the first of two Senate committees that will hold hearings on her nomination.

Republican senators disagreed. The top committee Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, warned her that Republicans hope to retake the Senate in November and scale back the law in numerous ways.

"Republicans want to repair the damage Obamacare has done," Alexander said.

But at the same time, Alexander cited Burwell's "reputation for competence," and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., declared he plans to vote in favor of her nomination, calling her a "tremendous asset."

The exchanges pointed to a potentially smooth confirmation for Burwell even as her nomination hearings allow Republicans to focus renewed election-year attention on the unpopular health law. Burwell was unanimously confirmed by the Senate last year as budget director, and no senator has announced opposition so far to her nomination to the HHS post.

Burwell is Obama's choice to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned last month after presiding over the passage of the health law and the disastrous rollout of the federal enrollment website. Sebelius announced her departure just as the law had begun to recover with stronger-than-expected sign-up numbers.

Although a surge of sign-ups rescued the health law's big enrollment launch from failure, Burwell faces significant challenges in sustaining that momentum next year. The federal HealthCare.gov website will be called on to handle more states with less money for consumer outreach.

In advance of Thursday's hearing, Burwell got a boost from the health insurance industry. Karen Ignagni, head of America's Health Insurance Plans, issued a strong statement of support, calling Burwell "uniquely qualified to lead HHS during this critical time."

Burwell, a native of tiny Hinton, W.Va., was deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and later served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Development Program and then the Wal-Mart Foundation, before returning to the White House last year to run the budget office under Obama.

If confirmed, she will preside over a $1 trillion bureaucracy that rivals the Pentagon in complexity.

The Health Committee won't actually vote on Burwell's nomination; that task falls to the Senate Finance Committee, which has yet to schedule its hearing.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 1 year ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 1 year ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 1 year ago )
Conviction of Putin foe sets off protest in Moscow
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
6:03PM ( 1 year ago )
More Georgians signing up for health insurance
A federal report says more Georgians have selected health insurance plans through a federally facilitated marketplace.
4:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain are emerging
WASHINGTON (AP) — New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain emerged Wednesday as U.S. health officials say mosquito eradication here and abroad is key to protect preg...
6:22PM ( 3 hours ago )
President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says "there s...
10:40PM ( 1 day ago )
Search for Missouri couple wanted for crimes across the South, including Ga., ends with one suspect dead and the other wounded
A weeklong search for a Missouri couple wanted in a series of robberies and abductions across the South ended with one suspect dead and the other wounded Friday, after authorities say they chased the pair across the highway and through a rural neighborhood and exchanged gunfire with them in Florida's Panhandle.
By The Associated Press
9:57PM ( 4 days ago )
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while, buoying consumers, frustrating oil producers
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while.That reality is wreaking havoc and causing uncertainty for some governments and businesses, while creating financial windfalls for others. Less expensive...
6:18PM ( 1 week ago )
Cruz (R) expected to claim conservative Iowa caucus victory, with Clinton (D) and Sanders (D) deadlocked among liberal vote
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz swept to victory in Iowa's Republican caucuses Monday, overcoming billionaire Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were deadlocked in a tight race.
By The Associated Press
10:55PM ( 1 week ago )