U.S. Representative Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health & Human Services, on Tuesday gave the clearest clues yet about how the administration might repeal and replace Obamacare.

Clearest, however, doesn’t mean entirely clear. In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Price laid out broad goals such as affordability and a focus on patients. He wouldn’t say whether a new measure would cover as many people as the Affordable Care Act or what kind of coverage would be available for individuals to buy.

Price repeatedly said that he wants a health-care system in which “every single American has access to affordable health coverage that will provide the highest-quality health care that the world can provide.”

Trump campaigned on a pledge to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and his victory, combined with Republican majorities in the House and Senate, gives Republicans a clear path to undoing the health law. But almost seven years after President Barack Obama signed the ACA, they haven’t coalesced around a replacement, and Trump, too, has said little on his plans, leaving lawmakers to grill Price.

Pressed for details, the nominee wouldn’t say whether some people might be made worse off by an eventual replacement for Obama’s law, which extended coverage to an estimated 20 million people. Trump has promised “insurance for everybody,” and Price at the hearing declined to say whether that would be the case. He did say that individuals covered under the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid should either keep that coverage or be covered in a different way.

Price outlined policies he wants to keep. He said an ACA replacement should take care of individuals with pre-existing conditions and continue coverage for preventive care. And he said that efforts to replace the law should be made “simultaneously” with its undoing, so that coverage isn’t disrupted.

“Nobody ought to lose their insurance because they get a bad diagnosis,” he said. He did say some sick people may be cared for in separate government-funded insurance plans, known as high-risk pools.

Women’s Right?

He was less clear on coverage for contraception, which the ACA largely provides to women without costs such as co-pays.

“The system that we ought to have in place is one that allows women to be able to purchase the kind of contraception that they desire,” he said.

At the end of the hearing, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, the panel’s senior Democrat, criticized Price for ducking questions on the law and on the effect of an executive order from Trump that calls for its repeal and directs agencies to minimize its burdens.

“There’s a big gap between the answers you’ve given on the executive order with respect to repealing the Affordable Care Act and what the new president said all through the campaign,” he said.

His counterpart, Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, praised Price for trying to find ways of controlling government health-care spending. The Senate Finance Committee is responsible for deciding whether to send Price’s nomination to the full chamber for a vote.

“We’ve got to find some way of delivering all these health-care benefits to people without totally ruining the country so nobody gets any benefits, which is where we’re headed,” Hatch said. “If we keep going the way we’re going, there won’t be health care for anybody. We won’t be able to afford it.”

Second Opinion

Trump has said he’ll propose plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act once Price is confirmed. At the hearing, Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, asked Price whether it’s true that he’s helping Trump develop a plan.

“It’s true that he said that,” Price replied, to laughter. Asked to expand, he would say only, “I’ve had conversations with the president about health care.”

Brown responded: “I’m still not sure if the president lied, not to you but to us, about whether he’s actually working with you.”

Price wasn’t the only one who tried to distance himself from Trump’s “insurance for everybody” pledge.

When Wyden noted a final time that Price wouldn’t say whether anyone would lose coverage, Hatch chuckled, asking, “Well, how can anybody commit to that?”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.