"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Successor Has Been Named

At the end of last week, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned.  Her tenure was marred with the disastrous start up of HealthCare.gov and everyone knew that she wasn't going to survive the mid-term elections in November.  The "fall gal" in this case will be Secretary Sebelius, but again, that's politics.  

However, the rub for me is related to her successor, Sylvia Mathews Burwell.  Ms Mathews Burwell is a "proven manager" from the Office of Management and Budget according to the Administration, but she has zero experience in health care, medicine, social services or public health.  Isn't that pretty much what the Secretary of HHS oversees--those four areas?  We now have an individual who is a policy expert and she will be running one of the largest components of our Federal Government.  No one is DC seems to mind that she is an experienced bureaucrat with no related experience to HHS.  Her primary responsibility will be to get the Affordable Care Act up and running.  

Members of Congress are hoping for answers from Ms. Mathews Burwell on the future of health care in America.  Really?  I expect Ms. Mathews Burwell will be well prepared to address issues related to the public policy aspects of health care.  But, focusing on the complexities of this business while improving the health status of our communities, providing senior care or focusing on health care for families, especially children, just to name a few, may take a back seat while she gets the failed aspects of the ACA up and running.  ( I am on the record supporting the value-based care delivery aspects of health care reform, which are an integral part of the ACA.)  

Somehow this reminds me of the newly appointed Ambassador to Argentina, who admitted that he had never stepped foot in that country during his nominating hearing in February.  Call me crazy or old school, but related experience, knowledge and background need to be taken into consideration when such appointments are being made.  I hope that Ms. Mathews Burwell excels at her job, but I will have to wait and see.

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