Doc groups raise more questions about Price’s fitness for HHS post

Tom Price speaking
Controversy continues to follow Rep. Tom Price in his nomination as HHS secretary.

Get ready for fireworks as the Senate plans to hold a hearing Wednesday on the nomination of surgeon-turned-politician Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Controversy continues to swirl around his appointment.

A physicians' group, the National Physicians Alliance, on Thursday added to the questions about Price’s fitness to serve as HHS Secretary in Donald Trump’s administration, according to MedPage Today. In addition to his political positions that many doctors say don’t serve patients’ best interests, the nonprofit group called for an investigation into Price’s healthcare stock trades that raise concerns about conflicts of interest.

"There have been allegations … of serious conflicts of interest and potential ethics violations," Manan Trevedi, M.D., president of the group that represents about 10,000 physicians, told the publication.

Trump’s transition team said in a statement that the Office of Government Ethics completed a review of Price’s financial holdings and expects the Senate will move ahead to consider Price’s nomination, MedPage Today reported.

A Senate committee announced it has scheduled a hearing on Price’s nomination for Wednesday. Trump, at his news conference this week, said his administration will present a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act when Price, an outspoken opponent of the healthcare reform law, is confirmed. 

Price is facing calls for investigation of whether he had insider knowledge as a member of Congress in his choice of stocks, according to the Associated Press. 

Before he faces scrutiny at his nomination hearing, Price announced this week he plans to divest financial interests in any firms that could present a conflict of interest as HHS secretary, according to STAT. One of those companies is an Australian biotech firm which offered U.S. investors a “sweetheart deal,” according to Kaiser Health News.

Price’s nomination has been controversial from the start, triggering a firestorm of protest from some physicians. Nearly 450 doctors who are members of the American Medical Association signed an open letter criticizing the physician group’s endorsement of the Trump nominee. The physicians say Price’s positions on health policies contradict their belief in healthcare access for all Americans, access to reproductive healthcare for all women, protections for the LGBTQ community, and continued coverage for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Despite the questions about Price, a top senator says he expects Price to be confirmed to head the nation’s top health agency by mid-February, according to Kaiser Health News.