Jan 16, 2017 - Politics & Policy

Here's another ethics issue for Tom Price

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

It's about stocks, again. CNN notices the Georgia Republican, who is Trump's nominee to lead HHS, introduced legislation delaying regulation on a company in which he'd recently purchased stock. The transition team says there's no scandal — the purchase was made by a broker and Price didn't know about it until after the bill was introduced.

What happened:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a new way to pay for drugs under Medicare Part B last year. It was ultimately withdrawn by the administration after the election, but drew vehement industry and congressional criticism.
  • Price, then chair of the House Budget Committee, bought stock in Zimmer Biomet shortly before introducing the delay bill. Analysts had said the Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer, would be significantly hurt by the regulation.
  • Zimmer Biomet's political action committee then contributed to Price's re-election campaign.
  • In a statement Monday night, the transition team said the purchase happened because Price's broker was doing a larger rebalancing of his portfolio and he didn't know about it until later.

What's next: If this sounds familiar, it's because Price's stock purchases have come up repeatedly in the past couple weeks, raising ethical questions. But the real question is whether it's a big enough deal to sink his nomination.

So far, the answer seems to be probably not. "It's hardly surprising he introduced a bill to overturn a badly written reg," said one Senate GOP aide. The aide also pointed out the bill had likely been drafted for awhile before it was introduced, which is standard law-writing process.

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