President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services finds himself in some ethical difficulty after it was revealed that former Georgia Congressman Tom Price invested in a medical device company just prior to introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company.
Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN. Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.
Zimmer is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of artificial knee and hip devices and would have benefited immensely from Price’s intervention.
Making matters worse, CNN is reporting, “After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company’s political action committee donated to the congressman’s reelection campaign, records show.”
This is just the quid pro quo deal making we don’t need right now, especially when it is difficult enough trying to police big Pharma and the medical device industry.
However, this kind of bombshell revelation may make it difficult for the Republican-controlled Senate to ignore these clear ethical violations and vote for a Cabinet Secretary who has some real ethical issues. CNN is also reporting, “The new revelation is the latest example of Price trading stock in a health care firm at the same time as pursuing legislation that could impact a company’s share price. The issue has become a major liability for the congressman after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could impact them.
The purchase of the Zimmer Biomet shares is the latest such example, raising new concerns among ethics experts that Price may have inappropriately used inside information while purchasing shares in a company. Concerns over insider trading on Capitol Hill — where members of Congress allegedly traded stock based on intelligence gleaned from the legislative process — prompted the enactment of the STOCK Act in 2012 aimed at combating the practice.”
Such revelations could lead to potential criminal charges, something Trump would need to avoid in his first 90 days in office.
These revelations, if true, demonstrate that Price would be a disaster as an HHS Secretary. He would be a puppet of the medical device industry and Big Pharma. We surely don’t need that.