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Report: HHS secretary took 5 private jets for work trips last week

CNN logo CNN 9/20/2017 By Daniella Diaz, CNN
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price testifies during a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 29, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The hearing discussed the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services.(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images) © Zach Gibson/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price testifies during a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 29, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The hearing discussed the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services.(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price took five work-related trips on private jets last week, which cost tens of thousands of dollars more than had he flown commercial, according to a published report.

Politico reported Tuesday night that Price -- who has vowed to cut wasteful spending in his agency -- traveled to a resort in Maine where he was part of a discussion with a health care industry CEO, as well as community health centers in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

His travel itinerary included private jets that charter operators estimated would cost at least $60,000, according to Politico.

Price's work travel breaks with the precedent set by former President Barack Obama's HHS secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially when flying within the US.

Price's office has not yet responded to CNN's request for comment. The agency declined to confirm details of the flight and who paid for them to Politico, only saying that Price travels on a private jet when commercial flights aren't feasible.

Politico found that there were commercial flights and trains available for Price's trips, including one to Philadelphia, which is only a 125-mile drive from HHS headquarters in downtown Washington to the center where Price spoke.

All three organizations that hosted Price last week told Politico they did not pay for his travel costs.

Price is a frequent critic of government spending. He told CNN in April that he wants to cut redundancy and waste in his agency.

"For us to say, 'OK, let's just throw more money at that system. Let's see if more money helps that out' is the wrong way," Price told CNN's Sanjay Gupta.

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