Noted Princeton University healthcare economist and well-known industry pundit Uwe Reinhardt has been appointed to a paid director post on the board of Triad Hospitals, one of two for-profit hospital companies spun off in May by Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
Reinhardt, 60, has made a career out of critiquing the American healthcare system and has called for a two-tiered system under which all Americans would be guaranteed basic care.
Reinhardt said he doesn't see a conflict of interest between his work as an academic and public speaker and his position on the Triad board. He noted that he is already a director of the not-for-profit Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
"It's a terrific way to learn about health economics, to actually sometimes sit in the trenches and see how decisions get made," he said. "I don't really see that it would affect me. If it did, I would probably quit the board."
Reinhardt's appointment came at the recommendation of Thomas Scully, president and chief executive officer of the Federation of American Health Systems, the trade association that represents for-profit healthcare companies.
"I think it's a good thing for Triad and I think it's a good thing for Uwe," Scully said. "He's been very much in the middle of the debate over the years and he's been on both sides of it."
Reinhardt is a professor of healthcare economics at Princeton. He has never before served on the board of a publicly traded company.
As a director of 33-hospital Triad, Reinhardt will receive an annual retainer of $18,000 and a fee of $1,500 per meeting.