HEALTH PLANS: Roy Poses keeps up his attack dog tactics

Roy Poses at Health Care Renewal keeps up his attack dog stance on the United HealthGroup board. Although I can’t exactly agree with all of his criticisms—for instance Mary Mudlinger’s attempt to increase the use of NPs is probably a good thing—he is the only person out there pointing out the inherent difficulty for academics being on a corporate board that has, at the least, potential conflicts of interest with their academic missions.

Of course the real dirt is that the UHC board including McGuire contributed to Thomas H. Kean’s son’s political campaign while Kean (the ex-NJ governor and chair of the ineffectual 9–11 commission) was on the compensation committee. Yup, that committee which agreed with the options backdating (or at least had it happen on its watch).

Anyway, I’m glad Roy’s on this, so I can slack off!

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  1. Even without conflicts of interest or even stock options, many of us in the investment community question how independent most academics on boards can be when even the standard director retainer can amount to a significant percentage of his or her gross income. It would be a lot more difficult for such an individual to tell a CEO what he doesn’t want to hear than it might be for an independent director who also happens to be independently wealthy.

  2. Woof, woof.
    That’s the first time I have been called an “attack dog.” I guess it’s a compliment. But I think I prefer “watch dog.”
    I have been amazed how much fuss there has been about individual physicians taking pens, coffee mugs, or even pizza lunches from pharma companies, while there has been absolute silence about medical school deans, academic medical center CEOs, and presidents of universities with medical schools simultaneously serving (with five or six-figure salaries and loads of stock options) on boards of pharma companies, device companies, etc.
    If pens and coffee mugs create conflicts of interest that affect decision making, think about what sort of conflicts hundreds of thousands of dollars plus fiduciary responsibility create.