Written by: John Lynn
I haven’t really commented in the past about Tom Daschle’s appointment as HHS Secretary. However, today it was announced that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from being HHS secretary. I don’t know Tom Daschle that well, but from what I’ve read, it seems like Tom Daschle would have been more focused on implementing changes too health care not related to IT. This guest post by Tom Daschle on the Huffington Post seems to indicate this feeling I have.
One thing is certain, it’s quite shameful that Tom Daschle could somehow have missed $128,203 in additional tax and $11,964 in interest. Considering the amount of money Obama is planning on investing in EMR, I’m not sure I would have wanted Daschle involved in the process.
Of course, you have to wonder if there exists a politician that isn’t tainted in some serious way or another. Whoever Obama appoints as HHS secretary, I hope it’s someone who will invest appropriately in HIT. I also hope they’re as transparent and open as past HHS secretary Mike Leavitt was in his blog.
I just found this interesting set of quotes and media put together by Alborg about Daschle and various special interests that he might have had.
I’m so happy that Daschle was forced to resign. He was one of the major HIMSS representatives on Obama’s team. From the HIIMSS website:
“HIMSS has arranged for members to personally add their support for Senator Tom Daschle to be confirmed as the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “
In fact, he was paid off by HIMSS members, including speaking fees from Misys Healthcare Systems ($12,000) and GE Healthcare ($12,000) on 8/2008. Quote from article “Tax Cheat Daschle Favors Federal Reserve for Health“:
“GE Healthcare, one of several healthcare companies that paid Daschle tens of thousands of dollars to speak to their organizations, stands to profit if Daschle is confirmed and pursues Obama’s plan for more federal involvement in the health care field. Indeed, a part of the Obama plan, which is a specialty of GE Healthcare, is the electronic processing of medical records.”
Another quote from the recent media:
“While the tax cheating is getting some attention from the media, the $220,000 in speaking fees that Daschle collected from special interests in the health care field seems to be getting more coverage because of the fact, as noted by Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico.com, that many of these firms “stand to gain or lose millions of dollars from the work he would do once confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services.” A front-page headline in the Washington Post, “Health Sector Enriched Daschle,” captures the obvious conflict of interest problem for the nominee. One of those firms is GE Healthcare, but chances are you won’t hear much about it from GE’s media properties…”
About Dashle’s book which includes HIT references:
“Daschle’s book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis,” published in early 2008, notes that “we are years, if not decades, behind European nations in harnessing health care information technology’s potential.” It calls for removing much health care policy-making from the political arena but states that at the same time the executive branch of the federal government should promote creation of an IT infrastructure for health information.”
The only question I still have is whether anyone exists that isn’t as bad or worse than Daschle. At least maybe his replacement will know how to file his taxes.