Daschle pushes health IT to Obama, clients profit

South Dakota Democrat and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is not registered as a lobbyist, and has not held public office since he lost a re-election bid in 2004. Instead, Fred Schulte and Emma Schwartz report for the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, that Daschle has existed in a nebulous limbo that’s allowed him to pivot deftly from pushing electronic medical records as an almost-HHS secretary to helping private firms profit handsomely from their implementation.

Tom Daschle’s official Senate portrait, courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

Daschle, as Obama’s first choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services last year, was a forceful advocate for using billions of dollars in economic stimulus money to help doctors and hospitals buy electronic medical records systems.

Tax problems led him to withdraw his name from consideration for the cabinet post. Then, a few weeks after Obama signed off on a stimulus plan that provided some $45 billion for digitizing the health system, Daschle began assisting private clients seeking to profit from the new law.

Public interest groups take issue with Daschle’s activities:

“He was in a position to drive public policy and develop connections within HHS that could provide his clients with an unfair competitive advantage in receiving taxpayer dollars, at the same time he and his firm benefits from his previous activities,” said Scott Amey, a lawyer with the Project on Government Oversight.

In the rest of the solid, in-depth piece, the reporters track both the breadth of Daschle’s influence (he has the ear of the president) and the impact he’s had on bottom lines across corporate America.

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