Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told Fox News on Saturday that he’ll stop his taxpayer-funded travel on private jets, pending a formal review by his department’s inspector general. “We’ve heard the criticism. We’ve heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart,” Price said. HHS did not respond to request for comment. Story Continued Below Price continued to take charter jets after a POLITICO investigation identified that the HHS secretary had been chartering private planes to conduct official business for months. The cost of his trips this past week was $ 56,500, according to a federal contract. POLITICO has now identified more than $ 400,000 in charter jet spending for Price’s travels since May. Pressed by a Fox News host, Price allowed that “the optics in some of this don’t look good,” but he said that his situation differed from when he criticized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010 for "flying over our country in a luxury jet." As speaker, Pelosi had access to government aircraft and frequently took flights back and forth between Washington and California. Price said that HHS would “cooperate fully” with the inspector general review, which is already underway, and his department has begun its own review of its travel practices. “We welcome this review,” Price said. “We want to make certain that we have the full confidence of not just this administration, but the American people.” He added that all flights that he took were subject to legal review. Price also defended his travel practices as necessary for public health or combatting emergencies. “Of the 11 trips over the last eight months, the majority of them were for the opioid crisis or the hurricanes,” Price said. Many of those 11 trips involved separate flights to multiple airports across several days, and POLITICO has identified at least 10 distinct charter flights since May that were not related to either the opioid crisis or hurricane response, including flights to conferences in San Diego and Aspen, Colorado.
Utne Altwire: healthcare