The stunning array of civic-minded individuals appointed this week by Governor Matt Blunt to form a Healthcare Information Technology Task Force has two things in common- all are connected to the medical community and most donated to the governor's campaign or are connected to firms that donated.
A quick review of Missouri Ethics Commission documents show that at least 10 of the 12 committee members contributed to Missourians for Matt Blunt, the governor's campaign organization.
Blunt announced the formation of the committee in a news release issued Thursday. In that release, he said,"In order to improve the delivery of quality health care in Missouri, we must seek new and more efficient ways to serve both patients and providers. I have charged this task force with seeking out ways to use technology to improve Missourians' access to health care and firmly believe that we can help set a national model for other states to follow."
The release says the governor created the task force to "ensure that healthcare information can be readily available to health care providers, consumers, and public health agencies in order to make the best healthcare decisions and to improve patient safety by reducing medical errors." The idea was mentioned in the governor's State of the State address.
The news release continues, "The group is charged with reviewing the status of healthcare information technology adoption by the state, addressing issues related to the delivery of healthcare information, identifying private resources and public/private partnerships to fund efforts to adopt interoperable health information technology, exploring the use of telemedicine and making recommendations for implementation." You can read into that anything you want...if you can understand it.
Committee members with financial connections to Blunt include all three from southwest Missouri.
Freeman Health System CEO Gary Duncan and his wife, Suzanne, each donated the maximum $1,200 to the governor's re-election campaign on May 5, 2005. An additional $3,600 has been donated by others connected with Freeman, according to Ethics Commission documents. And that's just for the current election cycle. During the 2004 cycle, Duncan contributed $1,200 on Sept. 24, 2004, and his wife donated $100 on Dec. 29, 2003.
Randy Meents, owner of Greenfield Pharmacy, donated $250 on March 31 while Greenfield Pharmacy contributed $1,200. During the previous election cycle, Greenfield Pharmacy donated $1,175 on Nov. 29, 2003, $25 on April 12, 2004, and $1,200 on Nov. 2, 2004, according to Ethics Commission documents.
No contributions are listed for the third southwest Missourian, Gordon Kinne, Springfield, owner of Med Pay, during this election cycle, but Blunt received a $1,200 contribution from Marshall Kinne, whose occupation is listed as student and who has the same home address as Gordon Kinne. However, Gordon Kinne contributed the maximum $1,200 to Blunt on Aug. 20, 2004 and Laura Kinne, same address as Kinne, contributed $1,100. Kinne also donated $1,200 to Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder's campaign.
Five other task force members can be tied to Blunt contributions, either directly or indirectly:
-Douglas Anning, Kansas City, is a shareholder in the Business Law Department of Polsinelli Shalton Welte Suelthaus. Though Anning is not listed a contributor, Blunt has picked up at least $2,900 in contributions from the law firm. Anning is the only task force member to have contributed to any of Blunt's opponents, Ethics Commission documents show he contributed to the campaigns of Bob Holden and Claire McCaskill in 2004, giving $400 to Holden and $250 to McCaskill.
-John McClellan, CEO of Twin Rivers Medical Center, Kennett, contributed $250 June 25.
-Dr. Stephen Reintjes, Kansas City, a neurosurgeon with the Kansas City Neurosurgery Group, contributed the maximum $1,200. For the 2004 election, he gave $500 on Dec. 5, 2003, and his Kansas City Neurosurgery Group gave $1,200 in March 2004.
-Dr. Chad Shaffer is chief medical information officer at Truman Medical Center, which is connected to $7,500 in contributions during the current election cycle.
-Michael Murphy, CEO of Mercy Health Care, Chesterfield, donated $300 on Feb. 19, 2005. He contributed $250 to the Blunt campaign on March 30, 2004, and another $250 on Sept. 30, 2004.
-Joel Hassien, Hannibal, who operates a private practice, contributed $1,200 to Blunt in 2004, and another $1,200 to Lt. Gov. Kinder.
-Rebecca Foudree, Independence, is listed as co-owner of Grain Valley Pharmacy in the governor's news release. Not mentioned is her position as secretary of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, an organization whose political action committee donated $1,200 to Blunt in 2004.
Of the other two Task Force members, one, chairman Julie Eckstein, is director of the Department of Health and Human Services, a position to which she was appointed by the governor. The other is Richard Royer, Columbia, CEO of Primaris and owner of Avalon Development, Inc.