Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Steve Sebilus Nails Shelly Berkley In KidneyGate 2012

Steve Sebilus nails Shelly Berkley and her unethical behavior.
From the LVRJ: "Shelley Berkley stood up for everybody in Nevada who was on dialysis," Copeland says in the ad. "When people say Shelley Berkley put money in her own pocket to keep the transplant center open, that's ridiculous. It's all about taking care of people in Nevada, keeping people alive, saving lives."
Copeland is right that Berkley didn't profit. Although Lehrner's medical practice oversees UMC's entire kidney program, the contract he had with the hospital would not have changed even if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had terminated transplants. (Lehrner's practice doesn't perform transplant operations.)
But this is not just about saving lives. Berkley wrote to and telephoned the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to plead for the program, without disclosing her husband's involvement. That's questionable, even without a pecuniary benefit.
Moreover, Berkley did not need to be personally involved. With fellow Reps. Dean Heller and Jon Porter on board, to say nothing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the program would have been saved even if Berkley had abstained because of her conflict.
 In a second ad, kidney patient Patrick Clary says he was scared when he heard the transplant center would shut down. Without UMC, patients would have to travel to Arizona or California for surgery.
But wasn't Clary equally concerned about the reasons the federal government had for shutting down the program in the first place? Four people died after undergoing transplants at UMC, deaths the hospital itself acknowledged as failures. The attention brought to the issue by the threatened closure helped turn the program around, but it wasn't as if Medicare officials acted arbitrarily.
A third ad, however, glosses over a salient point: "When cuts were threatened to reduce Medicare coverage, Shelley Berkley fought to stop them. And because her husband's a doctor, now she's being accused of wrongdoing."
No, Berkley's being accused of wrongdoing because she allegedly used her position in Congress to contact fellow elected officials and ask them not to cut Medicare reimbursements for kidney care, which prevented Lehrner from losing money. That's a direct pecuniary benefit to Lehrner, and by extension, Berkley.
Sebilus is about as liberal as they come int he Las Vegas media.  He is very liberal and for him to go after Berkley says to the casual observer was wrong, very wrong for her behavior in trying to retain funding for the kidney program.
Again, as most lack of ethical behavior goes, it's not the crime that gets you, it's the cover up and Berkley is guilty of covering up her role in KidneyGate 2012.

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