White house health reform appointee may face conflict-of-interest charges

Nancy-Ann DeParle, President Obama's recently appointed healthcare reform czar, has raised serious conflict-of-interest concerns among Washington watchdog groups, reports the Los Angeles Times. DeParle reportedly received $3.5 million in related fees from stock in healthcare firms. She has held positions with Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Medco, Cerner, Boston Scientific and dialysis provider DaVita. She also was administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid during the Clinton administration.

While DeParle has severed her ties to the healthcare industry, according to the White House, groups fighting for transparency in government, such as the Sunlight Foundation, are worried about potential unreported conflicts of interest. 

Delayed disclosure, says the Sunlight Foundation's executive director, Ellen Miller, makes it much harder to raise objections, because an appointee's work probably will already be underway. While some have raised concerns, others believe that DeParle's industry experience could prove quite useful in her role heath reform advisor to HHS.

"Nancy will recuse herself from each and every particular matter involving a specific company on whose board she served," White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor said.

For more:
- see this Los Angeles Times story