Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dashing Daschle a PEU, Lobbyist, Tax Dodger

President Barack Obama's team quickly mastered the Friday evening, bad news drop. The disturbing information regarded HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle. Tom failed to report all his compensation between his jobs as lobbyist for Alston & Bird and board member for InterMedia Advisers, a private equity underwriter (PEU).

As a result, Mr. Daschle owed over $140,000 in taxes and interest. He may still owe additional Medicare taxes. Isn't that one of the programs he'll oversee? He worked alongside ex-Medicare Chief Tom Scully at Alston & Bird. Scully registered as a lobbyist, Daschle did not.

Daschle served alongside Bob Kerrey on the board of PEU InterMedia Advisers. Kerrey sits on the board of Tenet Health, a for-profit hospital chain. Tenet's Memorial Medical Center lost 34 patients in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Bush's White House made no mention of Tenet or Memorial in his Lesson's Learned report. A year later Jeb Bush landed a spot on the Tenet board. Coincidence or payback?

Yet, there are more ties to 24 of Memorial's patient deaths. They occurred on a floor rented to LifeCare Hospitals, a long term acute care hospital chain. Weeks before landfall The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare from GTCR-Golder Rauner. While HCA rented medical evacuation helicopters to remove patients from its dead facilities, Tenet and LifeCare/Carlyle let patients linger in an overheated toxic stew for five days.

Frances Townsend omitted the hospital with the highest patient death toll and its corporate owners. You won't find Memorial Medical Center, Tenet Health, LifeCare, or the Carlyle Group in her lengthy whitewash. Also missing, their red and blue connections. Red President George W. Bush served on the board of CaterAir, a Carlyle affiliate in the early 1990's. Carlyle employs a number of Bush 41, Clinton 42, and Bush 43 White House and Cabinet veterans. President Obama's new Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has ties to the firm that sold LifeCare weeks before landfall. GTCR's Chairman served as Emanuel's mentor.

Other than realizing I won't get my nearly three year old questions answered by members of the red or blue team, what's the insight? The blue team played a mean game of corporate imitation the last two decades. For-profit hospitals are two degrees away from the point man for health care reform, who served as chair for a PEU. Private equity targeted health care the last five years. It looks like their bets will pay off.

Watch reform closely. The citizen stands to lose again to corporate interests of the red and blue variety. Like Lucy, Washington insiders are an equal opportunity football puller.

No comments: