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FSSA secretary gets green light to take new job

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Indiana's human services chief can take a private-sector job helping a hospital network cope with the federal health care overhaul she opposed as a public official, the state ethics commission said Thursday.

By a 3-0 vote, the commission said the Family and Social Services Administration secretary Anne Murphy was free to take a position as Community Health Network's vice president of government relations, a job her attorney said wouldn't involve any lobbying. That means a statutory one-year waiting period won't apply.

Murphy asked the commission for a formal opinion on Oct. 4, one day before Gov. Mitch Daniels fired the head of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission over an ethics flap. She didn't say directly whether the controversy over an IURC attorney taking a job with a utility on which he had conducted hearings had any bearing on her request.

"I think everyone heard the governor's message last week that as state employees we have a responsibility to be ethical," she said in a statement after the meeting. "That's why I sought today's formal opinion from the ethics commission before accepting any job offer."

The governor's spokeswoman said Murphy had told Daniels she was looking for a job and had done the right thing by seeking the ethics commission's advice.

"She's done everything by the book," said Jane Jankowski. "She's being responsible."

Democratic House Speaker Pat Bauer said Daniels should "step in and stop this," saying the state can't afford even the appearance of impropriety in the wake of the IURC scandal. He said legislation to restructure the state ethics commission was likely during the next session.

"It just seems everything's a wink and a nod," said Bauer. "They might use legalese to try to escape the one-year waiting period, but it certainly is in the coals of the fire if not in the burning of the fire."

"One would naturally be curious as to whether this is deja vu all over with the IURC," said Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, who chairs the House Public Health Committee. He noted that Murphy helped craft the state's reaction to the federal health care overhaul and now could be going to a private employer with a clear interest in it.

Murphy said in official documents late last year and earlier this year that she was "gravely concerned" about aspects of the health care overhaul, including forecasts that it could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's Medicaid costs.

Murphy said Thursday that her proposed job at Indianapolis-based Community would focus on helping the not-for-profit company navigate new regulations expected as part of the health care overhaul.

"She already had expressed harsh views on federal legislation which is now the law, which causes all sorts of complications," Bauer said.

Murphy's attorney, Adam Arceneaux, said the new job wouldn't involve any lobbying. Community Health Network spokeswoman Lynda DeWidt confirmed the job offer and said it didn't involve a lobbying position, and Murphy's letter to the ethics panel said Community already has a lobbyist.

A copy of the Community offer, however, referred only to a restriction on lobbying the state executive branch.

Murphy, who has headed FSSA since January 2009, said her first contact with Community regarding a possible job came in June of this year and she had "walled myself off" from subsequent official dealings with the company, including a Medicaid appeal. Before that, she said her only direct dealings with Community at FSSA were meetings to discuss legislation, similar to meetings held with other health care providers. Arceneaux said those would not bar her from taking the hospital post under state ethics law.

Murphy said she thought the agency had made enough progress meeting various challenges — including trying to meet rising need with tighter budgets and changes in the way individuals apply for food stamps and other aid — that she felt comfortable leaving FSSA.

Brown said Murphy had been "a breath of fresh air" at FSSA.

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  • One Year Cooling Off Period is A Joke
    FSSA leader has nothing to Community Health Network?

    Guess your golden if you jump from state financing agency to a hospital. Just look what former OMB Director Ryan Kitchell and former BMV Commissioner Ron Stiver have done for Clarian.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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