Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, is poised to be grilled by Senate Democrats when he appears Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The six-term Georgia Republican congressman has been one of the leading opponents of the Affordable Care Act in Congress, and an advocate for the restructuring of the Medicaid and Medicare health entitlement programs. Democrats have vowed to fight the nomination of Price, an orthopedic surgeon.
Undoubtedly, Price will be asked about his stock holdings in more than three dozen companies, including health care related agencies like Aetna, Biogen and Zimmer Biomet Holdings.
It’s his purchase in that latter stock that may get him in some trouble with the committee.
CNN reported that in March, Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer, before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company. That news comes after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could impact them.
Democrats pounced on that revelation.
“With what we have recently learned about his apparent conflicts of interest — including filing legislation to benefit a medical device company in which he recently bought stock — it’s clear that he’s also another swimmer in President-elect Donald Trump’s ‘swamp,'” declared South Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz Wednesday.
“No Member of Congress or Cabinet secretary — or president for that matter — should be creating the appearance of lining their own pockets on the taxpayers’ dime. Unfortunately, President-elect Trump, whose own record is rife with conflicts of interest, has tapped a number of Cabinet appointees that fit this alarming pattern. Congressman Price’s appalling record on health care policy should be reason enough to reject his nomination, but it should be withdrawn if these allegations prove to be accurate.”
Wasserman Schultz also is criticizing Price for his opposition to the ACA and repeatedly proposing “draconian legislation to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.”
“He is committed to dragging American health care back several decades with his proposed cuts to Medicare, our social safety net, and would callously ensure that 129 million Americans who live with a pre-existing condition like me — a breast cancer survivor — will be denied coverage based on our medical history.”
Wednesday’s hearing is being called just a “warm up,” because, in fact, Price faces confirmation by another committee — the Senate Finance Committee, and not the group of senators he speaks to Thursday.