CNN reported on January 16, 2017 that President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Representative Tom Price, had bought stock in a medical device company that manufactures hip and knee replacements (Zimmer Biomet) in March 2016, and then, less than one week later, he introduced legislation in Congress that would have directly benefited the company by delaying until 2018 a CMS regulation that would have financially harmed the company once it was fully implemented.
The bill that Representative Price sponsored was the Healthy Inpatient Procedures Act of 2016 (HIP Act), which was introduced on March 23, 2016. The HIP Act would have delayed and suspended implementation of Medicare’s Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, which tests episode-based payment and quality measurement for care associated with hip and knee replacements. Source
In September 2015, Representative Price reportedly was the lead in sending a letter to the acting administrator of CMS seeking the delay in the CMS regulation because it “represents a significant change to our healthcare delivery system which could have a negative impact on patient choice, access and quality.”
After Representative Price introduced the legislation that would have benefited the company, the company’s political action committee (PAC) donated money to Representative Price’s reelection campaign in Georgia, as reported by CNN. The company, along with another medical device manufacturer, would have been harmed the most by the new CMS regulation.
In December 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Representative Price, an orthopedic surgeon by training, has a history of trading stock in public health care companies while pursuing federal legislation that may have benefited those companies. Over a four-year period, Representative Price allegedly traded about $300,000 in shares of those companies.
The allegations raise the issue as to whether Representative Price used his inside information regarding the legislative process and how it affected those companies when investing in them, including the timing of his investments.
If Representative Price becomes the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, he will lead the agency the implements parts of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that deal with private and public health insurance. Representative Price has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act and has championed its repeal.
Protecting Doctors At The Expense Of Medical Malpractice Victims
On July 29, 2009, Representative Price introduced the Health Care OverUse Reform Today Act (HealthCOURT Act) of 2009 that would have amended the Public Health Service Act to authorize the Secretary of HHS to award grants to states for the development, implementation, and evaluation of administrative health care tribunals for the resolution of disputes concerning injuries allegedly caused by health care providers; would have prohibited the award of any noneconomic damages in any health care lawsuit with respect to treatment that is within an issued guideline; and, would have prohibited the award of punitive damages against a health care practitioner in such a lawsuit based on a claim that medical treatment caused the claimant harm if the treatment: (1) was subject to quality review by a qualified physician consensus-building organization; (2) was approved in a guideline that underwent full review by such organization, public comment, the Secretary’s approval, and dissemination; and (3) is generally recognized among qualified experts as safe, effective, and appropriate.
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