UnitedHealth quietly gave $1.2M to HHS nominee's research center

President Donald Trump's nominee for assistant health secretary of HHS has questionable ties to the insurance industry, according to Politico.

Here are five things to know.

1. President Trump nominated Stephen Parente, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, as assistant secretary of planning and evaluation for HHS in April. Mr. Parente is awaiting confirmation to lead the office tasked with assessing policies' effects on the insurance industry. He would also help oversee insurers.

2. One questionable link concerns a $1.2 million gift UnitedHealth Group made to a research center Mr. Parente helped establish. The donation took place five months after President Trump's nomination.

3. The gift, which follows a long relationship between Mr. Parente and UnitedHealth, sparked questions among watchdog groups. Scott Amey from the Project on Government Oversight told Politico, "The timing doesn't look good. I think Mr. Parente should take some steps to assure the public that he's working in the public interest, and not on behalf of United Healthcare or other donors" to the center.

4. UnitedHealth confirmed the donation and affirmed Mr. Parente's HHS nomination was not an influencer.

"As the largest company headquartered in Minnesota, we have a long-standing, multi-year partnership with our home state University of Minnesota and are grateful for and proud of the partnership," a UnitedHealth spokesperson told Politico.

5. Mr. Parente's other links to insurers include his previous role as chairman of the Health Care Cost Institute, a research initiative supported by UnitedHealth, Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente. Mr. Parente's consulting firm also worked with UnitedHealth in the past.

Mr. Parente declined Politico's request for comment in light of his nomination.

For the full report, click here

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