Tom Price, the Trump appointee in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, isn’t just your average multi-millionaire scumbag. Before showing up to slime all over D.C., he spent decades using his medical credentials to push the agendas of his Big Pharma and insurance company buddies.
Tom Price is a cartoon villain who’s finally got his own book to star in: Out of the Ooze charts the corruption and far-right extremism behind Price’s rise. From the suburbs of Atlanta to his time in the Georgia Senate and the House of Representatives, Out of the Ooze writer Alex Zaitchik lays out how Price has openly used his status first as a medical doctor, then as a government official, to line his pockets while pushing for laws that would keep the poor and sick even poorer and sicker.
We’ve excerpted the book below, but you can check it out and order a copy here.
Excerpt from Out of the Ooze
Chief among the barrier islands off Georgia’s southern coast is a charmed little place called St. Simons. With its quaint downtown, plantation ruins, and perimeter of beach grass dunes sloping into the Atlantic, it is Martha’s Vineyard with a history of Union Army occupation. On this isle sits a choice plot with a deed in Price’s name.
We know about the property because it is listed in Price’s financial disclosure statement. The plot, valued at up to $5 million, is one of many nest eggs Price has collected over the course of his long double-career as an entrepreneur and legislator. During his eight years in the Georgia senate and a dozen more in Congress, Price has amassed a personal fortune in excess of $12 million. In his official disclosure, his stock holdings alone filled 13 pages.
For most cabinet nominees, these numbers would generate shrugs. If dollars alone separated Price from the other two doctors nominated to HHS by Republican presidents — Otis Bowen and Louis Sullivan — nobody would much care. He is not the first millionaire to chair the Budget Committee, or run a federal department.
But there is a stink around Tom Price. A deep, unprecedented, flies abuzz stink. It appeared over him like a green fog on day-one of his Senate hearings. It deepened over the course of questioning and followed him into his new office, where he guides policy shaping the future of Medicare, Medicaid, and the decisions of the Food and Drug Administration.
The stink around Tom Price is not dissipated by the lack of a rap sheet. Though never convicted of breaking Congressional rules or the U.S. criminal code, a body of circumstantial evidence strongly suggests he spent his career in Congress rubbing hard against both boundaries.
While sitting on the Ways and Means Committee, Price enjoyed a brazen side hustle trading $300,000 worth of healthcare-related stocks, all the while advocating for many of these companies with colleagues and federal agencies. In the restrained language of Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, “When it comes to ethics, Tom Price falls well short of the standard the American people expect nominees to meet.”
Exactly how far short, we may never know. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was reportedly investigating Price’s dealings, and possibly planning an indictment, when President Trump fired him the day after the new HHS chief assumed office.
The problems with Tom Price go deeper than his suspicious stock trades. Those are surfacing methane bubbles that originate from deep fissures on the floor of a failed, inhumane, and corrupt healthcare system that Price embodies in caricature. The man with the Congressional nickname “Dr. No” has devoted his life to blocking all attempts to soften the edges of this system, then sharpening them further them on the backs of the poor, especially children and seniors. Despite the handful of human-sounding noises Price has learned to make over the years, his career amounts to a Creature Double-Feature of mutually reinforcing sadism and personal enrichment.