• Obama Goes Low Key With After-Hours Nomination of New Obamacare Chief

    President Barack Obama set the stage late Thursday for yet another bitter battle with Congress with an after-hours nomination of a healthcare executive with huge conflict of interest problems to head the government agency running Obamacare.

    Andy Slavitt, already the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is Obama’s choice for the official appointment. The White House listed Slavitt’s nomination along with three others, none of which are for positions of comparable prominence or importance.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch promptly issued statements that gave a hint of the battle royale to come as Slavitt’s nomination goes forward in the Senate.

    The debate is likely to be as much about Obamacare as it is about Slavitt’s fitness for the position.

    “The head of the agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid should be focused on what the American people expect him to do: administer these important programs, not allow his attention to be diverted instead to the implementation of some gigantic, unworkable health care law that hurts hardworking Americans,” McConnell said.

    “While Andy Slavitt’s nomination will receive thorough consideration in the Senate, it has long been clear that no one can successfully manage a law as unworkable as Obamacare. The sole focus of CMS should be to look out for our nation’s seniors and the many vulnerable Americans who use these programs, without the distraction of Obamacare,” McConnell said. McConnell is a Kentucky Republican.

    Hatch more direct, pointing to Slavitt’s career as a top executive at United Health Group, one of the healthcare industry’s biggest firms.

    “Mr. Slavitt’s conflicted history in the medical services industry has produced mixed results and raised a number of serious concerns. As such, he will be expected to demonstrate that he is up to the challenge and capable of successfully leading the agency through the monumental tasks that lie ahead,” Hatch said.

    “Most importantly, Mr. Slavitt will need to answer a number of tough questions regarding his former employer and their relationship with the agency,” the Utah Republican added.

    Earlier this year, the Daily Caller reported exclusively that “when Andy Slavitt reported for work as deputy administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last June 10, he pocketed at least $4.8 million in tax-free income from major health-care companies.

    “That’s according to financial disclosure forms obtained by The Daily Caller, now published for the first time. On June 27, he sold additional stock he personally held, raising his total windfall from the health industry to $7.2 million. United Health Group was Slavitt’s most recent private sector employer.”

    The low-key White House announcement of a nomination for one of the most important jobs in the Obama administration prompted one knowledgeable Senate source to suggest that neither McConnell nor Hatch’s committee will be in any hurry to take up the Slavitt issue.

     

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