START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

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UPDATE: Dr. Tom Price is turning into Dr. Charles Nichols from "The Fugitive"

 

No, I'm not accusing him of murdering anyone (well, unless his ACA replacement bill becomes law, that is), but it's starting to look like the Senate would have to be on drugs to confirm orthopedic-surgeon-turned-Congressman Tom Price as the new HHS Secretary:

Exhibit A, via Manu Raju of CNN:

Trump's Cabinet pick invested in company, then introduced a bill to help it

Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

...Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.

...After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company's political action committee donated to the congressman's reelection campaign, records show.

Exhibit B, via Jay Hancock & Rachel Bluth of Kaiser Health News:

Trump’s HHS Nominee Got A Sweetheart Deal From A Foreign Biotech Firm

When tiny Australian biotech firm Innate Immunotherapeutics needed to raise money last summer, it didn’t issue stock on the open market. Instead, it offered a sweetheart deal to “sophisticated U.S. investors,” company documents show.

It sold nearly $1 million in discounted shares to two American congressmen sitting on House committees with the potential power to advance the company’s interests, according to company records and congressional filings. They paid 18 cents a share for a stake in a company that was rapidly escalating in value, rising to more than 90 cents as the company promoted an aggressive plan to sell to a major pharmaceutical company. Analysts said the stock price could go to $2.

One of the beneficiaries was Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican poised to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which regulates pharmaceuticals. Price told HHS ethics officials Thursday that if appointed, he will divest himself of the Australian stock as well as stock in about 40 other companies that could pose conflicts. He said he would sell within 90 days of appointment and abstain from any decision-making about companies in which he or his family has had an interest.

He has already seen about a 400 percent paper gain in his investment in Innate Immuno, stock trading records show.

Exhibit C, via Dr. Jen Gunter at her blog:

Rep. Tom Price was paid by a drug company while they were under investigation for kickbacks

Who is Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and what do they make?

They are a Japanese pharmaceutical company and have a top-selling anti hypertensive drug, Olmesartan. They also have lots of what will undoubtedly be pricey oncology drugs in their pipeline.

But it didn’t seem like they had anything vaguely orthopedic and Rep. Price wasn’t practicing medicine in 2014 so I was very curious especially as there was no product listed.

So I did a little digging.

Turns out Daiichi Sankyo Inc. had to pay the Federal Government  $39 million for violating the False Claim Acts. The Department of Justice announced this on January 9, 2015.

Yes, Rep. Tom Price received $2,000 for undisclosed work done for a company on September 2, 2014 and on January 9, 2015 that company had to pay the Federal Government $39 million for “improper kickbacks in the form of speaker fees.”

Where's Richard Kimble when you need him?

Of course, as Twitter user @gstakev notes, Donald Trump would've mocked the one-armed man for having a disability.

UPDATE: Whoops...Exhibit D, via Marisa Taylor and Christina Jewett of Kaiser Health News:

Top Price Contributor Allegedly Leaned On Employees To Support PAC

President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet pick Tom Price counts among his top contributors a Georgia company and its CEO, who sent managers an email demanding donations “IMMEDIATELY” to a political action committee supportive of GOP candidates and causes, according to documents reviewed by Kaiser Health News.

The PAC was operated by Georgia-based MiMedx, whose CEO Parker H. “Pete” Petit is among the top individual contributors to Price, a Georgia congressman and Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary. Federal campaign finance records show MiMedx, through its PAC, chief executive and his relatives, has contributed more than $40,000 to Price’s campaign and joint fundraising committees since 2014. With combined PAC and individual donations, the company was ranked as Price’s top contributor for 2015-2016 by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

I wonder, does Obamacare cover Swamp Fever?