Tom Price, the former U.S. secretary of health and human services, has joined the advisory board of Alpharetta-based Jackson Healthcare. (PHOTO by Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Price joins board of medical company with political ambitions

Tom Price, the recently resigned U.S. secretary of health and human services and former congressman and Georgia legislator, has joined the advisory board of a company with ambitions.

Jackson Healthcare, a medical staffing and technology company based in Alpharetta, announced the addition in a news release Tuesday. The company also boasts former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a member of its board.

Price declined to comment when contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But Jackson’s president, Shane Jackson, said he was confident Price would “bring a lot of value to our company in the future.”

A spokeswoman for the company noted that the board meets a couple of times a year and provides guidance. Price will receive compensation, although the company would not say how much.

“As with other board members, Dr. Price will provide feedback on our business plan and advice on business strategy overall,” Jackson said. “He spent years as a practicing physician, developing business acumen gained from running a highly successful practice, and has unique insight into national health care policy from his time serving in Washington.”

Both Price and Jackson Healthcare founder and CEO Rick Jackson — Shane Jackson’s father — are deeply interested in health care and come from private-sector, deregulatory viewpoints.

“That’s a good fit there,” said state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, who knows Price and whose district includes Jackson Healthcare.

Beach said he spoke to Price after he left Washington and that Price sounded “good” and was looking for what to do next. “He seems to be doing OK,” Beach said. “Obviously, he’s finding some stuff he wants to do.”

Beach also had high praise for his constituent, Rick Jackson, as an executive of a company on the move.

“He’s building a $100 million building — on top of what he already has,” Beach said. “He’s hiring for 1,400 new jobs in the next two years.”

Beach said: “I think it’s a smart move to have a former secretary of health and human services on your board. … Not only was Tom a politician, he’s a physician.”

Price’s top ambition in Washington was to dismantle the federal health care law known as Obamacare. But he resigned under fire following the disclosure by the website Politico that he had billed taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for more than two dozen private plane flights during his federal service.

As for Jackson Healthcare, its founder has become a big player in state politics. Jackson has pushed both to privatize functions of Georgia’s foster care system and to send medical malpractice claims not to juries but to administrative panels.

Jackson was himself a foster child and had a rough time until he was placed in a Christian home that transformed him, he has said.

Together Rick and Shane Jackson donated a total of $18,000 to Price’s congressional campaigns, according to federal records, including $10,800 to Price’s last campaign. That was the legal maximum of $2,700 per person for the primary and general elections.

The company, its owners and family members have contributed about $400,000 to state candidates and causes since 2011, including about $79,000 to the campaigns of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, one of the leading candidates for governor this year.

Beach said he doesn’t know whether Price has future political plans.

“I know he’s got a heart for public service,” Beach said. “That said, I don’t know when you’re at the top, and a Cabinet position is pretty close to the top, I don’t think you come back and serve as state senator.”

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Staff writer Brad Schrade contributed to this article.

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