US health secretary suspends use of chartered jets following spending row

US health secretary suspends use of chartered jets following spending rowTom Price, the US Health and Human Services Secretary, is to halt taxpayer-funded trips on private jets pending an internal review of his travel arrangements. Mr Price, a key ally of Donald Trump charged with helping to repeal Obamacare, came under fire when it emerged that he and his department had spent more than $ 300,000 (£222,000) on charter flights. Speaking on Fox News Mr Price said the use of private jets would be suspended while the programme is examined by Daniel Levinson, the 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,” Mr Price said. He added that he would co-operate fully with the investigation. But Mr Price denied extravagance, saying that the figures related to 11 trips over an eight-month period and related to both the recent hurricanes and the opioid crisis sweeping the United States. On other occasions, Mr Price added, he and his staff, did use commercial flights and on occasion travelled by road, undertaking car trips lasting several hours. Five ways Donald Trumps healthcare plan is different from Obamacare We welcome this review,” Mr Price said. “We want to make certain that we have the full confidence of not just this administration, but the American people.”  Critics accused Mr Price of using private jets when cheaper commercial flights were available. They pointed out that Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who held the post under Barack Obama, did not use private jets. Charmaine Yoest, Mr Price's assistant secretary for public affairs, previously defended his use of private jets. “This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people,” she said. “Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money."



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