President Obama nominated Andy Slavitt as a potential candidate for CMS Administrator. Slavitt is well known as the leader of the largest medical fraud operation that defrauded 110 million Americans out of hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2009, Slavitt was CEO of Ingenix, a health data analytics firm in the middle of a $50 million settlement with then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and a $350 million settlement with the American Medical Association. Cuomo and the AMA confirmed that Ingenix supplied databases to insurance companies that fraudulently calculated out-of-network reimbursements and forced countless patients to overpay by almost 30% for medical services. It was estimated that the data manipulation by Ingenix affected about 1 in 3 patients using out-of-network services for over a decade.
It was perfectly clear that Ingenix and UnitedHealth resisted any change in reimbursement practices until Cuomo threatened consumer fraud litigation. In 2011, following the settlement, UnitedHealth renamed Ingenix as OptumInsight and Slavitt remained an executive until he joined the CMS last year. Senate Republicans allege that the Obama administration awarded Slavitt a rare “ethics waiver” when he joined the CMS. Obama made an ethics pledge back in 2009 that his appointees would not be allowed to participate in any official activities that could benefit their former employers for 2 years. Slavitt was exempted and subsequently was able to make decisions that favorably affected UnitedHealth Group, which is now interestingly the nation’s largest insurance company.
Obama nominated Slavitt earlier this month to replace Marilyn Tavenner who stepped down last January in part over the troubled launch of Obamacare. The shocking fraud that came to light under Slavitt’s management should be grounds for dismissing him as a trustworthy leader, who was also unrepentant about the scandal. If he is confirmed by the Senate, Slavitt will head the CMS and manage an estimated $1 trillion in benefits that are paid to millions of doctors, patients and hospitals.
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