President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services -- Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia -- is accused of buying stock in a medical device company just days before supporting legislation that benefited the company.
According to House records reviewed by CNN, Price bought between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of shares in March 2016 in Zimmer Biomet, one of the world's leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants.
Days later, on March 24, 2016, Price introduced the Healthy Inpatient Procedures Act, which prohibited a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that would have directly impacted Zimmer Biomet.
“This new, mandatory payment model handed down from CMS comes with tremendous risk and complexity for patients and health care providers. Rushing its implementation would be unreasonable and potentially detrimental to patients and their quality of care,” Price said in a March 2016 press release introducing the legislation. “At the very least, a delay in implementation is warranted to give all involved time to better assess, review, and weigh the impact and consequences of this proposal and more adequately prepare so patients are protected.”
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Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate minority leader, called for an investigation into Price's activities.
“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,” he said, according to The New York Times.
Phil Blando, a Price spokesman, told CNN that Price's stock purchases did not violate any ethics rules.
"Any effort to connect the introduction of Dr. Price's legislation, co-sponsored with Democrats, to a campaign contribution is demonstrably false,” Blando said. “Dr. Price is fully complying with the recommendations put forth by the Office of Government Ethics."