The bipartisan commission to restructure Medicare will include two managed-care executives and two physician-lawmakers but no hospital administrators.
The two managed-care executives are Samuel Howard, president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Healthcare, Nashville, and Anthony Watson, chairman of Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York.
While the commission is short on private-sector providers, it does include two physician lawmakers: Sen. William Frist (R-Tenn.), a transplant surgeon, and Rep. Greg Ganske (R-Iowa), a reconstructive surgeon who was appointed by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Frist was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
Gingrich also appointed Howard, who was treasurer at Hospital Corporation of America (now part of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.) and president of the board of the Federation of American Health Systems before he founded Phoenix Healthcare in 1993. Phoenix Healthcare is one of the nation's largest Medicaid managed-care companies with more than 150,000 enrollees.
The other two Gingrich appointees were Reps. William Thomas (R-Calif.) and Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.). Lott also named Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) and Illene Gordon, a Medicare case worker in Lott's office.
President Clinton made his appointments to the 17-member commission last Friday, leaving three spots open. Clinton appointed Watson, who was the head of New York state's health insurance program before taking over at Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York. Clinton's other picks were former HCFA Administrator Bruce Vladeck; Stuart Altman, former chairman of the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission; and Laura Tyson, former White House economic adviser.
Richard Wade, senior vice president of communications for the American Hospital Association, said there was "some disappointment that no one from a major health system or hospital" was appointed. But Wade added that Vladeck, who was president of the United Hospital Fund in New York before taking over HCFA, and Altman were commissioners "who can validate the point of view of the hospital community." Vladeck now is a professor of health policy at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
The Senate Democratic choices named last month were Sens. Robert Kerrey (D-Neb.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). The House Democratic choices have not been made, but sources say they will be Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.).
The commission chairman, whose appointment must be agreed to by Clinton and GOP leaders, also hasn't been named. The top candidate appears to be Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), sources said.
The commission, formally called the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, is to report its findings by March 1, 1999, just in time for the 2000 presidential race. It was created as part of the balanced-budget law enacted in August.