Thomas Scully is only one example of the revolving-door world of Washington, where people routinely move in and out of government service and multiple positions in the private sector.
Another high-profile example in healthcare is Gail Wilensky, chairwoman of the Physician Payment Review Commission and a senior fellow at Project HOPE. Wilensky, who headed HCFA in the Bush administration, has served on the boards of at least 10 for-profit healthcare companies.
Wilensky is heir apparent to lead the congressional advisory group that would be created from the impending merger of the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission and PPRC (March 27, 1995, p. 3). A provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1995 would establish the 15-member Medicare Payment Review Commission.
ProPAC and PPRC members are private citizens who represent a variety of professional and business interests. They make recommendations to Congress on Medicare payment issues.
Wilensky said that if she does become chairwoman of the consolidated panel, the position would be part-time and she would devote a few days a month to the job.
Wilensky now serves on the board of United HealthCare Corp., a Minneapolis-based for-profit managed-care company, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also was a director of Marion Merrell Dow for a year before it was bought by Hoechst Marion Roussel last July. In addition, she serves on the boards of several other companies in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and scientific research.
One of those is Denver-based Coram Healthcare Corp., a troubled home-care provider. Wilensky, who has served on the Coram board since November 1994, returned her 75,000 stock options, as did the company's other directors, earlier this month.
Directors at United are paid $20,000 annually, plus a fee for attending board meetings. Wilensky joined that board in May 1993, and as of March 1, 1995, she held options to purchase 32,000 shares, the amount of options that directors are granted each year, according to SEC documents. Her term expires this year.
United's shares closed at $57.63 on Jan. 23 in New York Stock Exchange trading.
Wilensky said there is no conflict between serving on the boards and heading the Medicare Payment Review Commission because her role with the commission would only be part-time and advisory in nature.
"The types of recusals or requirements that you have to abide by for full-time positions have never been an issue for part-time commissioners," she said. For example, officers at Kaiser Permanente Foundation Health Plan and PacifiCare serve on PPRC.
Wilensky said that if she were to go back into a full-time position with the government she would have to reconsider her position on several boards.
While at HCFA she resigned from a number of not-for-profit boards because of the conflict, she said. She also sold any stock she held that was healthcare-related.