Rep. Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary and a Georgia congressman, invested up to $15,000 in a health company before introducing a bill that benefitted it, according to a report from USA Today.
USA Today’s Jayne O’Donnell reports Price’s investment broker bought $15,000 worth of McKesson stock in March 2016 and informed him of the purchase in April.
On May 12, 2016, Price introduced the Durable Medical Equipment Act, which in part stopped cuts of Medicare reimbursement for medical beds. McKesson, which produces medical beds, told investors that cuts in Medicare payments would be detrimental to its business in its annual report filed a week before the bill was introduced, according to the report.
The bill did not pass, according to the report, but parts of it made their way into the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act, which Price — an orthopaedic surgeon — was a part of.
This is the fourth investment that may raise questions for Price. The others were:
- An investment between $1,001 and $15,000 in Zimmer Bodet, a company that makes hip and knee replacements, before introducing a bill that would be beneficial to the company.
- The introduction of a failed bill that would have made a tax deduction on Puerto Rico manufacturing plants permanent. Price had four investments between $1,001 to $15,000 in pharma companies with facilities in Puerto Rico.
- An investment in a small Australian biotech company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, made through a private placement at a 12% discount to the share price of the stocks. Price said during his testimony to the Senate Finance Committee that the placement was available to all investors, but a later report revealed that it was available to all investors in Australia and New Zealand but limited to fewer than 20 people in the US.
Spokespeople from the Trump administration and HHS told USA Today that the investment did not influence Price’s legislation and he had been working on similar bills the two years prior to the investment as well.
Democrats have insisted that these trades have raised ethical questions that should prevent Price’s approval to the top spot at HHS. They have called for an investigation into Price under the STOCK Act, which prevents members of Congress from using non-public information they learn in their jobs while making investments.
Price maintained throughout his hearing that he did not know his broker was purchasing these stocks until after the trades, except has acknowledged that he directed his broker to purchase the Innate shares.
Republicans have also said that these investments are all legal and ethical and Price is qualified to be confirmed.
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