Public Citizen Opposes Surgeon General Nominee Carmona, Questioning Integrity and Management Style
As Senate confirmation hearings for the vacant surgeon general position begin today, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has raised concerns about the integrity of nominee Dr. Richard Carmona, USA Today reports (Healy, USA Today, 7/9). Public Citizen Health Research Group Director Sidney Wolfe on Monday sent a letter to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), chair of the committee reviewing Carmona's nomination, "strongly urg[ing]" the committee to vote against Carmona's appointment. Citing a Los Angeles Times investigative story about Carmona's history, Wolfe wrote, "[T]here are serious questions about his integrity that, in my view, disqualify him for the important office of surgeon general" (Letter text, 7/8). The Los Angeles Times reported that Carmona has been "forced out" of two top hospital management jobs; has "infuriated colleagues"; took eight years after his residency ended to earn board certification; and boasted of "exploits [which] were not quite as sensational" as the media portrayed them (California Healthline, 7/8).
In April, Dr. Charles Putnam, a surgery professor at the University of Arizona who has worked with Carmona, sent Kennedy a letter expressing concern about Carmona's ability to work with colleagues in an "effective or even a civil manner." In an interview with the New York Times, Putnam said he was even more concerned about Carmona's lack of public health experience (Stolberg, New York Times, 7/9). According to Kennedy spokesperson Jim Manley, the senator will question Carmona about some of those issues during the hearing (Meckler, AP/Nando Times, 7/8). Despite the controversy, Carmona's nomination is likely to be confirmed by the Senate because Democrats do not feel that the surgeon general appointment warrants a fight with the president, one Democratic aide said. The aide added, "This is not a Supreme Court justice with lifetime tenure. The reality of life on the Hill is you've got to pick your battles" (New York Times, 7/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.