Donald Trump appointed Tom Price as his Secretary of Health and Human Services in November, before his inauguration. That appointment was not too surprising in light of Price’s endorsement of Trump during the campaign. In 2016 Price said:
Donald Trump is “absolutely” qualified for the presidency, “there’s no doubt about that at this point.”
“If you want change, if you want government to actually work for the people, if you want the economy to get rolling, if you want to make certain that the government isn’t running your healthcare, if you want the government out of our energy policy for your backyard then you want Donald Trump.”
It was June of 2017 that Price, the nation’s top health-policy official, told an audience in San Diego that he was committed to wringing out wasteful spending — regardless of what happens with efforts by President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress to reshape Obamacare.
The speech by Dr. Tom Price came two days after a select group of Republicans in the Senate released a bill that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for most people to buy health insurance or pay a fine, significantly roll back the expansion of Medicaid coverage for the poor (called Medi-Cal in California) and end the increased taxes on affluent Americans that have underwritten much of Obamacare’s spending.
Price didn’t dwell on the legislative controversy. Instead, he placed an emphasis on cost controls.
It made sense that Price was focused on cost controls. In 2014 the Department of Health and Human services spent nearly $950 billion. It also wasted the most money of any governmental agency. The inspector general, our federal governmental representative, found that that single department wasted almost $21 billion!
Health and Human Services spent well over 100 times more than the least expensive agency, the Department of Commerce — the agency that administers the census. In fact, it spent about $300 billion more than the bottom 12 agencies combined.
The Department of Health and Human Services is the federal agency that oversees CMS, which administers programs for protecting the health of all Americans, including Medicare, the Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Price took five flights between Washington D.C., Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 for official business, according to internal HHS documents cited by Politico. A spokesperson who said Price charters private jets when commercial flights aren’t feasible did not elaborate on why that was the case last week.
Current and former staffers told Politico that Price had been traveling on private jets for months, breaking precedent from the two previous HHS secretaries who flew commercially within the continental U.S.
“I find it hard to believe he couldn’t find a suitable commercial flight to Philadelphia,” according to Walter Shaub, former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics who stepped down this summer.
“This wasteful conduct reflects disdain for the ethical principle of treating public service as a public trust. “Public office isn’t supposed to come with frivolous perks at taxpayer expense.”News of Price’s travel emerged after other members in the Trump administration came under fire for similar reasons.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is under investigation for his use of a government jet on a trip to Kentucky.
A watchdog group claimed the official trip was centered around viewing the solar eclipse near the path of totality, and Mnuchin’s wife Louise Linton was slammed online for flaunting her designer duds on the trip.
Price’s conduct is even more offensive in light of legislation he proposed after he bought stock in companies tied to the legislation.