Tom Price Resigns Amid Flight Chartering Controversy

Price was found to have chartered more than 2 dozen flights, racking up roughly $400,000 in extraneous costs.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, MD has resigned amid controversy over his unsanctioned use of chartered flights when commercial flights were available.

Precedence dictates that HHS secretaries use commercial flights except when traveling to remote locations, however, Price chartered 5 local flights between September 13 and 15, initially calling them a necessity because of his packed schedule.

The chartered flights cost tens of thousands of dollars more than his passage on commercial flights would have, according to reports, and come at a time when several other members of President Donald J Trump’s staff are under scrutiny for extraneous expenditures.

After initial news of Price’s chartered flights broke, Price was found to have taken at least 26 charter flights that cost more than $400,000. On Thursday, he offered to repay the Department of Treasury $52,000 to cover the cost of his personal passage on the chartered flights, but not other outstanding costs, like those for the personnel required to staff the planes.

Earlier in the week, Trump said he was “disappointed” in Price because the chartered flights didn’t look right “cosmetically.”

“This is an administration that saves hundreds of millions of dollars on renegotiating things, on new trade deals…you’ll be seeing the results very soon," Trump said.

On Friday afternoon, Trump had told reporters he would make the decision “sometime tonight” as he left the White House for his golf club in New Jersey.

Price, a former Georgia congressman and orthopedic surgeon, advocated for slashing funding of the Affordable Care Act to promote open enrollment on HealthCare.gov, along with a recent directive to scale back HHS staff support for enrollment programs in the states.

A longtime critic of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Price has worked with CMS Administrator Seema Verma to propose a rethinking of that agency’s mission. He has canceled or called for scaling back bundled payment efforts in cardiac care and hip and knee replacements.