Henneberg did not respond to questions about whether Leavitt's appointment was in any way related to Romney's promises to roll back much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Romney has repeatedly said he would issue waivers to all states on his first day in office, as part of a push to repeal the law.
Leavitt was a senior healthcare adviser to Mitt Romney, he told Modern Healthcare in a February interview, in which he also decried many aspects of the 2010 federal healthcare overhaul.
However, Leavitt, a former secretary of HHS for President George W. Bush, also said a Republican HHS secretary could use the healthcare law to improve the nation's health system by encouraging the move from a fee-for-service model to a heavier use of outcomes-based payments.
Additionally, an HHS secretary could use their expanded powers under that law to implement the changes that are needed to control the ever-higher federal debt. Those could include government-led initiatives similar to Medicare's Part D prescription drug program, in which the federal government helps to “organize an efficient market,” and help establish health insurance exchanges, he said.
Such generally positive comments on the controversial law, as well as Leavitt's consultant work helping states implement parts of the law, spurred some criticism of his new role after it was first reported over the weekend.
“Romney's appointment of Leavitt is a first step toward flip-flopping—or Etch-a-Sketching, or Romneying(TM), or whatever—on ObamaCare repeal,” Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute wrote on his blog over the weekend.