Frank Blechman: Stacking the panel

Many governors appoint their friends and business associates to various advisory panels to ensure that the results of the panel will go in the direction they want. No surprise there, simply the spoils of war.

However, Gov. McDonnell’s appointments to the recently announced Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council go further than the average stacked panel and are more disconcerting. This panel’s recommendations on the new federal health care bill will be formative and will impact all Virginians. Balanced views are required.

Yet 13 of the 24 panel members named have direct ties to the medical service industry. The largest health institutions are represented. Big business and big insurance interests are represented. Do we believe for a minute that they will comprehend, much less represent, the needs of the uninsured, underinsured, unemployed, disabled and underserved?

The most glaring imbalance is that not one consumer joins the list.

As a consumer, I have to hope that the nine members of the committee who don’t work primarily for corporate medical and insurance interests will ensure that consumers have some voice.

Frank Blechman resides in Fairfax Station.

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