Bye bye Ron Klain: no amount of retweeting Jennifer Rubin’s articles allowed the outgoing White House Chief of Staff to turn around the Biden administration.
That thankless job goes to Jeffrey Zients, who had been tipped for it since joining the Biden administration.
Zients is a finance guy and Dem donor who served stints in the Obama and Biden administrations, not to mention the board of directors of Facebook. He’s not particularly qualified for anything, despite heading up medical issues for Obama, like the launch of the ObamaCare site, or the pandemic response for Biden, but he’s just one of those guys you have to have around because, well, you just have to.
Broken site, broken administration, it’s all the same thing.
The still “very slow” federal Obamacare insurance website “remains a long way from where it needs to be,” the management guru responsible for getting it fixed said on Friday.
Jeff Zients said his team of government and private technology experts continue to make progress in repairing HealthCare.gov, but an increased volume of users is exposing new and preexisting problems in system capacity and software.
In some cases, the system’s response time for refreshing web pages remains unacceptably high. Too many people are still running into error messages or other problems that are being kicked up by buggy software, said Zients, who has been working for free since being appointed by President Obama in mid-October to fix the site.
Here’s his Facebook disclosure.
Jeffrey D. Zients has served as a member of our board of directors since May 2018. Mr. Zients has served as CEO of the Cranemere Group Limited, a diversified holding company, since January 2018 and has served as President and a member of its board of directors since September 2017. Mr. Zients served in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2017, including as Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He also founded and managed Portfolio Logic LLC, an investment firm, from 2003 to 2009. From 1992 to 2004, Mr. Zients served in various roles at the Advisory Board Company, a research and consulting firm, including as Chairman from 2001 to 2004 and Chief Executive Officer from 1998 to 2000. He also served as Chairman of the Corporate Executive Board, a business research firm, from 2000 to 2001. Mr. Zients holds a B.A. in political science from Duke University.
Interesting career for a political science major, but it’s all in how you use it.
The most egregious violation is documented in a 2015 Justice Department settlement announcement. Portfolio Logic—the investment firm Zients founded with his own money—agreed to pay almost $7 million to resolve allegations of fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid billing, involving a subsidiary (Pediatric Services of America Healthcare, or PSA) that it purchased in 2007.
According to the DOJ, PSA pocketed health care overpayments from the federal government instead of returning them, and even overstated the length of time they’d provided services covered by Medicare and Medicaid. PSA also asked for money from the Georgia Pediatric Program for a home nursing program without documenting any home nursing at all, according to the settlement.
PSA wasn’t the only company in Portfolio Logic’s portfolio that ended up paying millions to settle insurance fraud. Amedisys, a major American home health care provider and currently the second-largest hospice service provider in the country, settled a similar Medicare and Medicaid fraud suit one year earlier for $150 million, many times more than the PSA case.
American Prospect, a lefty site in love with Elizabeth Warren, documents the expected revolving door government healthcare stuff.
Returning to the White House after Cranemere, Zients reported in his financial disclosures that his wealth had swelled to somewhere between $89.3 million and $442.8 million.
What does Zients bring to the table for Biden? Money, obviously.
In 2018, he joined the board of directors at Facebook and chaired the Audit and Risk Oversight Committee. He left the board in 2020 and was paid at least $100,000 in cash and roughly $300,000 worth of Facebook stock in those two years.
In November 2019, Zients hosted a fundraiser for Biden at his home, inviting more than 30 former high-ranking Obama administration officials.
But the Biden administration is also badly dysfunctional. Nobody seems to be able to run it. Ron Klain certainly couldn’t. Obama and Biden have used Zients as a troubleshooter to tackle dysfunctional projects, like the ObamaCare site or the pandemic response, that nobody else wanted to be associated with.
And that’s the current status of the Biden administration. It’s the broken ObamaCare site. But won’t be anywhere as easy to fix.