President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), has been criticized by the media in recent weeks for his history of pro-healthcare industry corruption while in office. Price receives tremendous donations from Big Pharma and other private healthcare firms and has built a congressional career on defending his donors. Today CNN revealed one of the most self-serving things Price has ever done while in office.
Not content to coddle his corporate donors with pro-industry, anti-average American legislation, Price thought he would also use his position of power to get rich quick. House records show that in March, Price bought thousands of dollars worth of shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer. Within a week, Price had introduced a bill tailor-made to financially benefit Zimmer Biomet.
The HIP Act that Price proposed would have delayed until 2018 a Medicare and Medicaid reform that analysts warned would hurt Zimmer Biomet. In four years in Congress, Price traded over $300,000 in healthcare stocks while simultaneously focusing his legislative efforts on pro-corporation, anti-patient measures. “It clearly has the appearance of using your influence as a congressman to your financial benefit,” Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, said of Price’s transaction. “If he believed in the bill, he should not have purchased the stock.”
Larry Noble of the watchdog group Campaign Legal Center told CNN, “It clearly has the appearance of [Price using his] influence as a congressman to [his] financial benefit. If he believed in the bill, he should not have purchased the stock.” Price has promised to fully divest his assets if confirmed, in accordance with the Office of Government Ethics’ demands. However, this does not give Price a clean slate. He has a history of committing himself to industry over patients and has clearly built relationships with many industry lobbyists and executives. Price is not able to represent the American people as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and no amount of divestment will erase his corrupt past.