Trump Health secretary takes private flights costing tens of thousands: report

Trump Health secretary takes private flights costing tens of thousands: report
© Keren Carrion

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceOvernight Health Care: CEO of largest private health insurer slams 'Medicare for All' plans | Dem bill targets youth tobacco use | CVS fined over fake painkiller prescriptions | Trump, first lady to discuss opioid crisis at summit HHS inspector general stepping down from watchdog role Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 MORE reportedly broke with precedent when he used private jets last week for five different business flights.

The use of the private jets costs significantly more than flying commercially, Politico reported. According to the news outlet, his travels between Sept. 13 and 15 would likely cost at least $60,000.

Price used the private jets to get to places including Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, where he took part in discussions and visited community health centers.

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In the past, Obama administration secretaries flew commercial when they traveled around the U.S., Politico reported.

“As part of the HHS mission to enhance and protect the health and well-being of the American people, Secretary Price travels on occasion outside Washington to meet face to face with the American people to hear their thoughts and concerns firsthand,” an HHS spokesperson told Politico. 

“When commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel.”

An HHS spokesperson said official travel by the secretary "is done in complete accordance with Federal Travel Regulations."

But Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, questioned why Price used the charter flights to get to his destinations last week.

“I can understand why the secretary might have to use a charter flight to get to a hurricane-devastated region, but Philadelphia is not one of those regions this year,” he said.

“I find it hard to believe he couldn’t find a suitable commercial flight to Philadelphia.”

He added that public office shouldn't come with "frivolous perks at taxpayer expense."

“This wasteful conduct reflects disdain for the ethical principle of treating public service as a public trust,” he said.

"Taxpayers should pay no more than necessary for your transportation."

In the past, Price has raised concerns about federal spending.

“Tough choices had to be made to identify and reduce spending within the department,” Price said in a statement earlier this year.

“Our goal is to … [try] to decrease the areas where there are either duplications, redundancies or waste … and get a larger return for the investment of the American taxpayer.”