The outgoing chairman of the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission said the House Republican leadership forced him out because he is too liberal.A House Republican healthcare aide said he "wouldn't want to dispute" ProPAC Cha irman Stuart Altman's contention. But the aide, who asked not to be identified, added that there were a number of other factors involved in Altman's ouster, including the long period of time he had served as chairman of the panel, which advises Congress on Medicare hospital payment issues.An economics professor at Brandeis University, Altman said House GOP staff members told him the leadership wanted to replace him with Joseph Newhouse, previously a member o f the Physician Payment Review Commission, because Altman was too aligned with Democrats.Although he did work on the Clinton transition team and worked on an analysis of the Clinton healthcare plan during the 1992 campaign, Altman said he also served on the transition team for former President Nixon and that he "worked hard" as ProPAC chairman to ensure the panel's independence. The commission advises Congress on Medicare hospital payment issues."They sai d I was not Republican enough. They said I served on the transition. That was enough," Altman said.The House Republican aide said Altman, who has been ProPAC chairman since the panel's inception in 1983, had "outstripped anyone e lse in terms of term renewal."But he said Altman's work with the Democrats contributed to his removal. "I wouldn't want to dispute anything Stu says," said the aide.Besides Newhouse, a professor of health policy and management a t Harvard University, ProPAC will have three new members. PPRC, which advises Congress on Medicare physician reimbursement issues, will have two new members.Also appointed to ProPAC were William MacBain, senior vice president for h ealth plan operations, Geisinger Health System; Spencer Foreman, president at Montefiore Medical Center, New York; and Regina Benjamin, M.D., a family practitioner from Alabama. All four terms end March 31, 1999.The new PPRC commis sioners are Frank Sloan, professor of health policy and management at Duke University, and Pat Powers, executive director of Pacific Business Group on Health.Sloan, whose term ends April 30, 1997, replaces Newhouse, who leaves to t ake over as chairman of ProPAC. Powers' term ends April 30, 1998.In an interview, Newhouse said he would wait to see what the other commission members thought about a pending congressional proposal to merge ProPAC with PPRC before determining his position on the issue.
THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE;MEDICARE;OUSTED PROPAC CHAIRMAN `NOT REPUBLICAN ENOUGH'
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