Friday, August 07, 2009

Support for Public Health Care Option, but "Nyet" to Hoover

SACRAMENTO – The California stem cell agency appears to be on track to reject nearly all of the recommendations for improvements in its operations made by the state's good government agency, the Little Hoover Commission.

Meeting yesterday in a teleconference session, the directors' Legislative Subcommittee concluded its discussion of the Hoover report with a consensus “nyet” to the commission.

The panel earlier last month rejected the most sweeping recommendations, including reducing the size of the board of directors from 29 to 15 and trimming the powers of its chairman. The action was taken based on an opinion from the CIRM's outside counsel that the legislature could not make those changes.

Yesterday, the subcommittee went along (no vote was taken) with the CIRM staff response, which can be found here and here. The panel did agree to poll its scientific grant reviewers on whether they would resign if their statements of economic interests were made public. It also agreed to post vote tallies in the future by the board of directors on grant applications.

Art Torres, chairman of the subcommittee and a former state legislator, will prepare a report on the group's discussion and present it to the full board at its meeting Aug. 19-20 for ratification.

The Legislative Subcommittee, on a 6-3 vote, also expressed support for a public option in the national health care reform legislation. Director Jeff Sheehy, a UC San Francisco communications manager and AIDs activist, and Torres backed the effort.

Sheehy said access to health care and future stem cell therapies is critical to CIRM's mission. Duane Roth, co-vice chairman of the board of directors, opposed the endorsement, citing problems elsewhere in the world with government-run health care plans.

The endorsement will come before the full board at its meeting later this month.

Also meeting yesterday was the full CIRM board, again in a teleconference session, to discuss a proposal by President Alan Trounson connected to finding a replacement for Chief Scientific Officer Marie Csete, who has resigned.

Trounson plans to create a new vice president for research and development to enhance CIRM's engagement with industry. The title and additional responsibilities could also make it more appealing to possible job candidates.

Trounson's proposal does not require board approval but he is obviously taking care to ensure support from the CIRM board.

The plan hit a bump when Claire Pomeroy, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, raised questions about reporting ambiguities in Trounson's organizational chart, which seemed to conflict with the reporting lines in the job description dealing with basic science research.

Sherry Lansing
, chairperson of the Governance Subcommittee and former head of a Hollywood film studio, indicated that the plan seemed to justify the creation of a third VP. In that case, the executive director of scientific activities would be designated as a vice president.

In other action, the board added Gerald Levey, dean of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Ted Love, a Bay Area biomedical businessman, to the newly created Evaluation Subcommittee. Levey was then elected chairman of the committee and Francisco Prieto, a Sacramento physician, vice chairman.

The full list of committee members can be found here, minus the Levey and Love additions.

For the record, we should note that some of the material for yesterday's two meetings was posted extremely late on the CIRM web site. One memo dealing with the Hoover report was not available at teleconference location in Sacramento, although it may have been posted on the Web at the time of the meeting. The staff's discussion draft of the Hoover report did not appear until the day before the meeting. Likewise for the organizational chart. Sphere: Related Content


  1. Anonymous2:28 AM

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  2. Anonymous4:14 AM

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  3. This is interesting. My question is, are CATS covered under Obama family health care plan?

  4. Anonymous11:49 PM

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