Trump’s Pick for HHS Secretary has Major Conflicts of Interest

Trump’s Pick for HHS Secretary has Major Conflicts of Interest
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Last year, Donald Trump’s pick as Health and Human Services secretary, Rep. Tom Price, purchased shares in a medical device company just days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company.

Price purchased between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of shares in Zimmer Biomet, House records show.

Less than a week later, Price introduced the HIP Act, a piece of legislation that would have pushed back a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation until 2018. According to industry analysts, the regulation would have caused Biomet significant financial harm once implemented.

As one of the world’s leading medical device manufacturers, Biomet was 1 of 2 companies that would have been slammed financially by the new CMS regulations, which directly affect the payments for knee and hip implant procedures.

After Price introduced the HIP Act, Biomet’s political action committee “thanked” him by donating to the congressman’s reelection campaign, records show. The PAC cut Price a check for $1,000 2 days after introducing the bill. Three months later, the PAC cut Price another check for $1,000. Not nearly enough to fund a campaign, but still a blinding conflict of interest. [2]

The Georgia congressman has a history of introducing legislation to help companies that donate campaign funds to him. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Price traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past 4 years in health companies while pursuing legislation that would benefit them. [1]

Price, a prominent Republican voice on healthcare, sat on the influential Ways and Means subcommittee tasked with directly overseeing healthcare policy. [1]

The newest revelation has many concerned that Price may have used inside information while purchasing shares in a company. Such activity prompted the enactment of the STOCK Act in 2012, which is designed to halt insider trading on Capitol Hill.

Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, said of Price’s transaction:

“It clearly has the appearance of using your influence as a congressman to your financial benefit. If he believed in the bill, he would not have purchased the stock.” [3]

Price spokesman Phil Bando denies there is any conflict of interest and stated:

“Dr. Price takes his obligation to uphold the public trust very seriously. The Office of Government Ethics has completed an exhaustive review of Dr. Price’s financial holdings and just as Dr. Price was compliant with congressional disclosure rules, Dr. Price will comply fully with the recommendations put forth by the ethics office.” [2]

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] Raw Story

[3] New York Magazine

Raw Story