Rendell to Create New Office of Health Care Reform
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP, Jan. 14) -- Gov.-elect Ed Rendell is forming a new cabinet-level agency to coordinate efforts to improve Pennsylvania's sprawling health-care system and work on solutions to the medical malpractice crisis.
Rendell has tapped Rosemarie Greco, who was one of the highest-ranking women in U.S. banking in the 1990s, to lead the new Office of Health Care Reform, said a source familiar with the plan. Rendell will make the announcement Tuesday at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.
The office will have dominion over numerous state agencies that deliver or regulate health care services, including the departments of Health, Aging, Insurance and Public Welfare, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The goal is to streamline operations, improve access to services and ultimately save tax money. Health-care spending accounts for a third of the state's $21 billion annual budget.
Rendell has already appointed a task force that has recommended short-term solutions and is to announce long-term recommendations by April 1, which the Office of Health Care Reform will use to try to reduce soaring malpractice insurance
rates that are causing some doctors to leave the state.
The office will have a limited budget and small staff, to be supplemented by experts on loan from the departments under review. It won't have any regulatory power, but Greco will report directly to Rendell and help apply any changes that she recommends and the governor approves.
Rendell will create the office through executive order. Unlike his other cabinet nominees, Greco does not need Senate confirmation, the source said.
Rendell's spokesman, Ken Snyder, declined to comment on the new office. But he said Greco "has a history of helping very complex businesses streamline and simplify their services. She is tremendously well-regarded and would be a great addition to this administration."
Mark Pauly, a health economist at the University of Pennsylvania, said Greco might have some success in improving "the quality and satisfaction of care of public clients," but he doubts the effort will save much money.
Rising nurse wages, costly new medical treatments and expanding Medicaid rolls all inflate the cost of health care, and there is little the state can do about it, Pauly said.
"It's probably a smart political move to make (health-care reform) front and center, put a well-regarded person in the middle and let that person be the lightning rod," he said.
Greco was not available for comment Monday. In the mid-1990s, she was president of CoreStates Financial Corp., which was the 21st-largest bank in the country. After leaving CoreStates in 1997, she formed Greco Ventures, a business consulting firm. CoreStates was taken over by First Union Corp. in 1998.
In addition, she has served as the chairwoman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and was a Philadelphia school board member.
Greco, a schoolteacher before she entered the banking industry, currently heads the Campaign for Human Capital, a task force looking for ways to recruit and retain qualified teachers in Philadelphia.