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HHS Director Nominee Traded Health Stocks While Moving Legislation Affecting Them

Rep. Tom Price was making a handy profit on health care stocks while moving legislation to kill the Affordable Care Act.
HHS Director Nominee Traded Health Stocks While Moving Legislation Affecting Them

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Rep. Tom Price was trading in health stocks at the same time he was moving legislation that directly affected their value.

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 stock trades included Amgen Inc., Bristol Meyers Squibb Co., Eli Lilly & Co., Pfizer Inc. and Aetna Inc.

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.

You could possibly excuse the Amgen, Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Aetna, because they're pretty commonly traded stocks in standard portfolios. But that Immunotherapeutics stock. Boy, that looks shady.

Like this, for example:

The health-care industry is Mr. Price’s biggest patron. In 2015 and 2016, he received about $730,000 in campaign donations from health professionals, insurers and drug companies, more than from any other industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Over his six terms, he has raised about $15 million, and about $4.8 million came from the health sector. Insurer Aetna donated a total of $10,000 to Mr. Price in 2015 and 2016 through its PAC. Pfizer, the drug giant, donated $3,500 through its PAC. Eli Lilly gave $5,000.

Eli Lilly and Pfizer declined to comment. Aetna didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Price has made dozens of trades since 2012. On March 17, 2016, he made 70 trades, adding, among other things, to his holdings of Aetna by as much as $15,000, disclosure reports say.

As he has bought Aetna stock, Mr. Price has championed his own legislation to replace the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.


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The Empowering Patients First Act would provide refundable credits for people to buy insurance if they don’t have access to employer or government plans. Such credits could be used to purchase Aetna and others’ insurance. On the other hand, Aetna and others are set to benefit from certain provisions of the 2010 health law that Mr. Price’s bill would replace.

On Election Day, Aetna was selling at $112.77. It has gone up since then, closing at $124.69 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading on Thursday.

Democrats need to get on this, and make sure they make a big deal out of this at his hearing. This is an ethical breach that need closer scrutiny.

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