Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stuart Altman on "Obama Team"

Health economist Stuart Altman crafted health reform, still hotly debated. At a reform discussion in San Antonio, Altman said:

“I was on the Obama team.”

When insurance company costs arose, Altman jumped to their defense:

A single-payer system would get rid of the insurance industry, and therefore 30 percent of overhead costs in the health system, said Dr. Ana Malinow, an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine and past president of Physicians for a National Health Program. Malinow was citing a study to back her cost estimates when Altman said, “They're the biggest phonies,” calling insurance costs closer to 10 percent to 15 percent.

Sure, returned Malinow, but the rest of it is the health care providers' costs in dealing with all of those insurance companies.

What Altman didn't say was his pay from insurance companies for board service. Stuart sits on the following for-profit corporate boards:

Aveta- Medicare insurer
Inspiris- Medicare/Medicaid insurer
XL Health- Medicare insurer/chronic care manager
LinCare- Respiratory care, durable medical equipment, infusion services. Patients are primarily Medicare and Medicaid.

Altman was on the board of Visicu, which was bought out by Phillips. He beneficially held 55,000 shares and held options on 6,000 more. At $12 a share, Stuart grossed $684,000. Not bad. But that's not a Nancy-Ann DeParle or Uwe Reinhardt kind of payday. Maybe Altman will do better with his other holdings. What's their future under health reform?

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