HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson last week revealed a darker side to joining President Bush's Cabinet: the FBI background check and the financial disclosure.
Speaking to the American Association of Health Plans' policy conference in Washington, Thompson diverged from his written text to describe the details that the FBI dug up about his life.
"It turns out I was in a fistfight when I was 16," Thompson told the HMO executives. "They tracked down the guy (I fought). He couldn't remember who started that fight. But he indicated he would support me (for HHS secretary). So I must have lost."
As for his stock holdings, Thompson says HHS is such a huge department that investments in almost any company can be considered a conflict of interest, so among the perks of being a Cabinet-level secretary is "the privilege of selling all your stock in a down market."
His speech also included one more indication that Thompson hasn't quite mastered the details of Washington. In the text of the speech next to the name of his host, AAHP President and CEO Karen Ignagni, was the pronunciation of her last name: "ig-NAH-nee."
A conflicting union. Anthony Rodgers' marriage signaled a new beginning in his personal life but spelled an ending in his professional life.
Rodgers resigned Feb. 20 as CEO of Los Angeles-based L.A. Care, a quasi-public organization that provides managed-care benefits to 638,000 participants in Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. He had been with the company since 1995.
Rodgers' wife, Deborah Rodgers, is a project manager in the Medi-Cal division of Thousand Oaks-based Blue Cross of California. Blue Cross provides benefits to 235,000 L.A. Care participants, making it the organization's largest contractor. She had worked for L.A. Care as a consultant before working at Blue Cross, says L.A. Care spokesman Keith Malone.
Anthony Rodgers told Modern Healthcare in late January that as a public official, his marriage represented a conflict of interest, but that he wasn't immediately aware of it when he tied the knot last October. He added that he contacted L.A. Care's legal counsel for an opinion about his situation several weeks after his marriage. His wife had offered to resign her position at Blue Cross to resolve the conflict, Anthony Rodgers says.
A Blue Cross spokesman says Deborah Rodgers had informed her superiors about her upcoming nuptials and that an internal examination of the matter concluded that a conflict didn't exist on her end.
Health exec just wants to have fun. Once Kit Manchester figured out what makes the caged bird sing, her life changed completely.
After 14 years as a healthcare administrator in the U.S. Air Force and one year as a contract administrator with the Texas Healthy Kids Corp. program, Manchester decided the rigid life of a healthcare executive was for the birds. Or perhaps she was.
This past summer, Manchester and her husband, Terry Thompson, who both live in Austin, Texas, started an Internet company that sells parts to make toys for birds. The company is called Birds Just Wanna Have Fun, but it may be that 44-year-old Manchester decided it was finally time to just have fun. "I wanted more control and flexibility. I had reached the point where I didn't want to be married to my job anymore," Manchester says.
Plus, the American College of Healthcare Executives fellow had spotted a niche better than a growing suburb without a cardiac cath lab. Fifteen million exotic bird owners in the U.S. spending several hundred dollars on toys for each bird, according to Manchester, is nothing to squawk at.
Manchester, a bird owner herself, had not been able to find parts to create toys for her cockatoo, Rosie. "I assumed, correctly, that other people were having the same problem," Manchester says.
Now bird owners from all over the world can log on to www.birdsjustwannahavefun.com to order the rope, wood blocks, plastic beads and other materials they need to turn their bird's cage into a gymnasium.
Quotable. "In a better world, or in better times, the transaction agreement this court has been asked to approve would not exist."
-Westmoreland County (Pa.) Judge Alfred Bell, in a Feb. 7 court order approving an affiliation agreement between Pittsburgh-based West Penn Allegheny Health System and Citizens General Hospital in New Kensington, Pa., which closed last fall after serving Alle-Kiski Valley since 1912.