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Friday, May 11, 2012

Health Care Director Brings History of Scandal and Corporate-Run Regulation (ALEC) to NM

From ProgressNow New Mexico.

Governor Susana Martinez's appointee to lead the design of New Mexico's Health Insurance Exchange has a long and sordid history with ALEC, scandals involving the improper use of taxpayer resources and suspect businesses dealings using non-profit foundations for big personal gains.

Michael Leavitt is a former Bush administration EPA Administrator and HHS Secretary.  ProgressNow NM has discovered that during his tenure in those positions, and in his private life throughout and since, Leavitt has drawn criticism for his close associations with corporations he was charged with regulating, using government emergency aircraft as a private jet service and "suspect" behavior to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars through a non-profit and into his private bank accounts.

Among the items reported by ProgressNow NM (view the full report and citations online):

  • As EPA Administrator, Leavitt was a featured speaker at a 2004 ALEC event sponsored, in part, by ExxonMobil and other entities he was charged with regulating.  ALEC is the shadowy corporate-backed bill factory now under IRS scrutiny and investigation in several states for allowing corporations to write legislation and regulations about their own industries and feeding it to legislators to pass, avoiding anti-lobbying laws in the process.
  • As HHS secretary, Leavitt used a CDC emergency response aircraft as his personal charter jet on more than 90 trips - forcing the CDC to find other transportation in at least two actual emergencies
  • Congress proposed a law to stop Leavitt and others from funneling more than $500,000 in corporate and non-profit money through a non-profit scholarship foundation, then receiving all of that money back while placing those students in housing owned by Leavitt.

In 2014, small businesses and the uninsured (mostly young, old and poor) will be required to obtain health insurance and most will do so through the state-run insurance exchange.  The exchange is supposed to connect uninsured with insurers providing affordable insurance plans.  New Mexico has an estimated 430,000 uninsured residents, the second-highest in the nation.

Martinez is responsible for setting up that exchange, and she has delegated that task to Leavitt, along with a $1 million payment.  

"As a regulator, he was closer to those he regulated than those he was charged to protect.  As a health secretary he saw no problem with utilizing government emergency health response resources as his own private charter jet company and in private life he funneled hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in charitable money through a non-profit foundation and into his personal bank accounts," says ProgressNow NM's Executive Director Pat Davis.

"Insurance companies Leavitt will negotiate with are surely happy with this appointment, but New Mexico's uninsured and small businesses who are already pinching pennies are right to wonder about a man whose experience shows such disregard for individuals and taxpayers."

May 11, 2012 at 09:40 AM in Corporatism, Healthcare, ProgressNow New Mexico, Susana Martinez | Permalink

Comments

Oh, I hope Susana will pay for this at the polls. Speak the truth, how can she get away with this!

Posted by: bg | May 11, 2012 8:27:56 PM