Donald Trump's Cabinet Pick for Health and Human Services Made a Killing on Medical Stocks in the House

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), an orthopedic surgeon by trade and popular-vote-loser Donald Trump's pick to head Health and Human Services, traded more than $300,000 in shares in medical-related companies, all the while working and voting on legislation that could affect those companies’ stocks.

Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, bought and sold stock in about 40 health-care, pharmaceutical and biomedical companies since 2012, including a dozen in the current congressional session, according to a Wall Street Journal review of hundreds of pages of stock trades he filed with Congress.

In the same two-year period, he has sponsored nine and co-sponsored 35 health-related bills in the House.

His largest single stock buy was an August 2016 purchase of between $50,000 and $100,000 of an Australian biomedical firm, Innate Immunotherapeutics Inc., whose largest shareholder is a GOP congressman on the Trump transition team, according to the filings, which list price ranges. The stock has since doubled in price. […]

Mr. Price’s trading is likely to be a significant issue during his Senate confirmation hearings. Allegations of abusive trading by members of Congress in recent years led to a 2012 law—the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act—that bars members and employees of Congress from using “any nonpublic information derived from the individual’s position…or gained from performance of the individual’s duties, for personal benefit.” The law also requires members to report their trades within 45 days.

The law stops short of requiring members of Congress to put their investments into mutual funds or blind trusts, and what the law doesn't make them do, you can sure as hell bet that the likes of Price won't do. He'll have to sell them, if he's actually confirmed, or recuse himself from any decisions HHS would be making that has anything to do with these companies. But Price has been a very big player in health policy in the House, sitting on the Ways and Means Committee’s health panel, which oversees Medicare. He's also a member of the Republicans’ Congressional Health Care Caucus. While holding shares in a tobacco company. Because he cares so much about health. And he's been a big recipient of campaign cash from the industry, too. In this Congress, he received about $730,000 in campaign donations, and in his six terms in office, "he has raised about $15 million, and about $4.8 million came from the health sector."

But his stock trading is what should be raising questions in the Senate confirmation hearings. Like his major investment in Aetna stocks, and the fact that his own legislation to "replace" Obamacare, the Empowering Patients First Act, would give patients tax credits to go by health insurance, with the health insurance companies freed from the restrictions and requirements Obamacare places on them to actually provide worthwhile coverage.

Oh, and he wants to kill Medicare. Which should be a confirmation-killer in an of itself. But the conflict of interest thing? Yeah, they might want to talk with him about that.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.