Republicans are taking steps to cash in on their mangling of the healthcare system, buying stock in insurance companies just as the GOP moves forward with plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Lee Fang reported Thursday in The Intercept that just as the House was passing its healthcare bill, Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway (who is a member of Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership team) “added a health insurance company to his portfolio.”
Fang reported Thursday that “an account owned by Conaway’s wife made two purchases of UnitedHealth stock, worth as much as $30,000, on March 24th, the day the legislation advanced in the House Rules Committee, according to disclosures. The exact value of Conaway’s investment isn’t clear, given that congressional ethics forms only show a range of amounts, and Conaway’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Another Republican, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, is also cashing in. Fang reports that Inhofe has “purchased between $50,000 to $100,000 in UnitedHealth stock.”
Profiting from his office is not novel for Conaway, Fang reported. The Congressman “has a long record of investing in firms that coincide with his official duties,” such as when his wife “purchased stock in a nuclear firm just after Conaway sponsored a bill to deal with nuclear waste storage in his district.”
The issue of politicians aiding and benefiting from insider trading was brought into sharp relief earlier this year, Fang notes, particularly during Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s confirmation hearings. It was revealed that Price bought shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics, “a relatively obscure Australian biotechnology firm, while legislating on policies that could have impacted the firm’s performance.”
“Health industry stocks…have surged as Republicans move forward with their repeal effort,” writes Fang. The stock purchased by Inhofe and Conaway, UnitedHealth, has gained nearly 7 percent in value in the past three months.