Douglas appoints BISHCA commissioner

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(Host) Governor-elect Jim Douglas says his new administration will conduct a thorough investigation of the state’s role in reviewing a controversial expansion project at the Fletcher Allen hospital. Douglas wants to know if state regulators should have been able to foresee some of the major problems that developed in this project.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Host) Governor-elect Jim Douglas has appointed Rutland Senator John Crowley to be the next Commissioner of the Banking and Insurance Department and Douglas is making it very clear what Crowley’s first major assignment will be: a top to bottom review of how the department evaluated the Fletcher Allen expansion project – one that has almost doubled from its original size of $173 million.

The Hospital’s board of trustees admits that several top administrators lied to state regulators about the scope of the project. Despite this situation, Douglas wants to know if the Banking and Insurance Department could have done more to undercover the massive cost overruns:

(Douglas) “I’m very concerned, as most Vermonters are, about the situation that has developed there. I want to be sure that we restore public trust in the institution and make sure that it is able to continue to meet its obligations to the community. So I want to know if the Department of Banking Insurance Securities and Health Care Administration handled the situation properly in the past.”

(Kinzel) Governor Howard Dean says it’s wrong to blame the department over the Fletcher Allen controversy. The problem according to Dean is that Fletcher Allen officials deliberately lied about the project:

(Dean) “Banking and Insurance did everything they could within the limits of what information they were given. They were simply lied to and that’s why Fletcher Allen’s in trouble. Do I think everybody needs to have a polygraph before they testify? Maybe that we be discussed in the upcoming Legislature. I don’t know, it’s very hard to tell when people lie straight out to you. It’s hard to figure that, especially if the institution has no history of lying.”

(Kinzel) Governor-elect Douglas also made two other appointments on Thursday afternoon. He tapped Montpelier lawyer Michael Bertrand to be the new commissioner of Labor and Industry and he named state police Major Kerry Sleeper to be the new Public Safety Commissioner.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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