Tuesday’s SIM Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting was frustrating. They were supposed to vote on an ethics resolution proposed last month, but delayed a vote yet again. (They sent it to a workgroup for more study.) They are questioning whether they are legally subject to the state’s Code of Ethics for public officials. The Code prohibits people with a role in setting policy and budgets (CAB already has done this in a good deal of detail), or their businesses, from financially benefitting from those decisions.
The CAB has already stipulated that they are public officials in a related refusal to comply with FOI. They entered an executive session, a meeting where the public is not allowed, to discuss and vote on applicants for positions on SIM committees. They maintain that the secrecy is allowed because they are public officials and were discussing a personnel matter.
Bottom line: CAB is asserting they are public officials for FOI — evading transparency — but aren’t sure they are public officials for ethics — evading accountability. Several members noted that CAB — a board meant to represent and protect consumers in health care reform – should exceed the legal minimum and “take a higher road.”
In a hopeful note, SIM staff reported that they will recommend that the steering committee take up the ethics issue for the entire SIM process. Staff expressed a strong intention to abide by all laws and regulations, and to ensure the integrity of SIM policymaking and contracting.