I was disappointed in David Burdas editorial on the ethical standards of four former CMS administrators (I see on your resume you ran CMS, gulp, Feb. 19, p. 21). These four very different individuals all did an excellent job running what may be the most complex federal agency.
Gail Wilensky has been a quiet and thoughtful adviser to the legislative and executive branches for two decades, and is widely respected across Washingtons health policy community. To be appointed to the compensation committee at UnitedHealth Group after the companys stock options problem surfaced meant that she was viewed both by the board and the investment community as a credible force for change in UnitedHealths policies.
I served with Nancy-Ann DeParle on a corporate board for four years; she was an outstanding director. Nobody who has ever worked with her would believe Burdas comment that she somehow, someway profited from a conflict of interest.
Bruce Vladeck spent more than 30 years laboring in the vineyards of the not-for-profit healthcare world, including a lengthy stint at the United Hospital Fund. He gave up a comfortable consulting practice at the personal request of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine to turn around Newarks desperately troubled academic health center. To accuse him of corruption is offensive nonsense.
Tom Scully made a lot of political enemies during his time at the CMS, but there would be no Medicare prescription drug benefit if he had not been there. Working effectively for an unpopular administration absolutely guarantees your share of mudslinging. Tom was and is one of the most skilled legislative and policy technicians of his generation; his blunt honesty and energy are not only refreshing but very useful.
It was not clear what career path Burda would suggest for former CMS administrators. Perhaps they should retire to academia and write papers that no one reads, or join the French Foreign Legion. The four people whose reputations he impugns are knowledgeable, thoughtful people who are widely sought after for the quality of their advice and leadership.