Price Squirms On Whether He Supports Trump On Medicare Drug Negotiations

Tom Price's Obamacare obfuscation Trump's HHS nominee previews how GOP plans to sell an ACA

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump's nominee for secretary of health and human services, is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, before he later visits the Senate Finance Committee, which will vote on his confirmation.

Citing House records, CNN revealed on Monday that Price past year bought $1,001 to $15,000 in Zimmer Biomet, a leading provider of knee and hip implants.

A second involved the purchase of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company. Here are the controversies that are most likely to emerge in the hearing. Three of the purchases were private placements made at prices below where the shares traded on the market. Responding to accusations that he directed his broker around ethical guidelines, Price called such an arrangement "nefarious" and something that "astounded" him. "I have access to buying a ten million dollar home, I don't have the money to do that".

Price, along with Rep. Chris Collins of NY and other United States investors, received a 12% discount on the shares. When pushed on his own plan to replace Obamacare, which he'd previously introduced in Congress, Price argued that the plan would let most people maintain coverage, though many analysts dispute that claim. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Price has made more than $300,000 in trades in health care stocks over the past four years, while he continued to introduce health care legislation.

This is how an Obamacare "replacement" plan will be sold.

The GOP-controlled Senate cleared a hurdle Thursday to begin their plans to repeal Obamacare. The details of the plan were included in Speaker Paul Ryan's outline last summer to replace the Affordable Care Act. WSJ's Louise Radnofsky and Tanya Rivero discuss the challenges. "Two weeks after you invested as much as $90,000 in six pharmaceutical companies", said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.

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"You voted in support of a resolution to disapprove the District of Columbia's non-discrimination law, the Reproductive Health Non Discrimination Act, which protects women here in D.C. from being fired or penalized due to their reproductive health decisions", Hassan said.

"Well, Congressman Chris Collins, who sits on President-elect Trump's transition team, is both an investor and a board member of the company", Murray said.

Democrats were skeptical of that portrayal, and called for an independent investigation into the matter. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tried to pin Price down on a simple question: "Is health care a right?" Murray asked, according to CNN.

Earlier in the hearing, Price told Sen.

Kaiser Health News reported the Innate shares were bought at a discounted rate. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report on Tuesday that found that 32 million people would be left without healthcare over the next decade if Republicans repealed Obamacare without offering a replacement.

In other words, Trump World doesn't want Price to have to answer questions about the policies he'd implement at HHS, so Trump aides have kept him deliberately in the dark.