Insider trading claims follow HHS pick Tom Price prior to confirmation hearing

Tom Price
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., faces accusations of insider trading on the day before his confirmation hearing to head the Department of Health and Human Services. PHOTO CREDIT: Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., faces accusations of insider trading on the day before his confirmation hearing to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

A new report from CNN revealed that last March, Price bought shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer, worth $1,001 to $15,000 only days before he introduced legislation that would have directly benefited the company.

The findings add to ethical concerns already raised by Democrats and the medical community about President-elect Donald Trump's pick for HHS secretary. Earlier this month, Senator Minority leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called for an investigation into reports that Price bought and sold more than $300,000 in stock in 40 healthcare, pharmaceutical and biomedical companies since 2012 while sponsoring legislation that could have influenced those companies’ shares.

In addition to the conflicts of interest, hundreds of physicians have said 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.

Price’s confirmation hearing is supposed to begin on Wednesday. Trump’s transition team defended Price on Monday, telling Reuters that the stock purchase was made by a broker and Price didn’t know about it until after he introduced the legislation.

"Any effort to connect the introduction of bipartisan legislation by Dr. Price to any campaign contribution is demonstrably false," Phil Blando, transition spokesman, told the media outlet.

But Larry Noble, general counsel at the watchdog Campaign Legal Center,told CNN that if Price believed in the bill, he shouldn’t have purchased the stock. Concerns over insider trading by members of Congress led to the STOCK Act in 2012 to prevent the practice, CNN noted.

If confirmed, Price has said he will divest from 43 companies, including Zimmer Biomet, to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, according to the article.

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