Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising additional ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.
Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet. A few days later, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented. After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet relief from the CMS regulation, the company’s political action committee donated heavily to the congressman’s reelection campaign.
Zimmer Biomet, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants, was one of two companies that would have been hit the hardest by the new CMS regulation that directly impacts the payments for such procedures.
The new revelation is the latest example of Price trading stock in a healthcare firm at the same time as pursuing legislation that could impact a company’s share price. The Wall Street Journal reported that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could impact them.
Price sat on an influential Ways and Means subcommittee that directly oversees health care policy. “This new report makes clear that this isn’t just a couple of questionable trades, but rather a clear and troubling pattern of congressman Price trading stock and using his office to benefit the companies in which he is investing,” Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “The Office of Congressional Ethics needs to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into these potential violations of the STOCK Act before Rep. Price’s nomination moves forward.”
His stock holdings have included Aetna Inc., Pfizer Inc, Amgen Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. In recent years he has sponsored or co-sponsored 44 bills with potentially important financial impact on the U.S. health care system, insurers and the pharmaceutical industry.