(VitalNews.org) – President Biden’s nominee to sit as a trustee on the boards of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security faced intense questioning during his Thursday, September 28 confirmation hearing. Demetrios Kouzoukas rounded off his opening statement to the Senate Finance Committee with an invitation to ask him questions, saying that he looked forward to providing the answers.
Some of the most vigorous questioning came from President Biden’s own party member, the Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, who persevered with her questions even as Kouzoukas appeared to try to avoid giving a firm answer.
Warren’s main topic of interest was Kouzoukas’ current role as a board member for Clover Health, and the potential conflict of interest that this could create, should he gain his seat on the board of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Warren told the hearing that a large factor in the success and solvency of Medicaid is the growth of Medicare Advantage, which allows for-profit businesses to sell Medicare coverage. Warren claimed that experts have warned these companies are on track to overcharge the government by $75 billion, and she observed that Clover Health earns a substantial portion of its revenue via Medicare Advantage.
Having provided this context, Warren went on to ask Kouzoukas exactly how much he earns as a board member for Clover Health. He told the hearing that he earns $100,000 from this position after Warren had asked the question six times. The Massachusetts Senator noted that his role on the Clover Health board obliges him to act in the best interest of the for-profit company and asked him whether or not he would resign the position should he be confirmed to the Medicare board. In footage of the hearing, Kouzoukas appeared to try to dodge the question once more, ultimately failing to give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. After failing to draw an answer from him, Warren stated that she believed he would not give up the Clover Health role, and as a result, she would oppose his nomination to the Medicare board.
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