Questions Arise Over Resume of Acting Assistant Secretary at HHS
Cristina Beato -- nominated last July as assistant secretary of health at HHS -- may not receive a Senate confirmation hearing over concerns that she "fabricated or inflated" parts of her resume, the Washington Post reports. Questions have arisen over claims that Beato served as medical attache at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, a position that State Department officials have said does not exist; received a master's of public health degree in occupational medicine from the University of Wisconsin, a degree that university officials have said does not exist; and published a scientific paper on inert gases. Beato also claimed that she "established" an occupational health clinic at the University of New Mexico, but according to William Wiese, director of the Institute for Public Health at the university, the clinic "existed before she was hired." In addition, Beato claimed that she served as a "medical consultant" for the Technical Vocational Institute and Presbyterian Senior Health Spectrum in Albuquerque, N.M., and that she had a 12-year relationship with the Sheet Metal Workers in Washington, D.C., although none of the organizations has a record of her service. Beato also claimed that she served as the medical director at All Faiths Receiving Home in Albuquerque, but Steve Johnson, executive director of the facility, said she only served as a volunteer physician.
Beato has served as acting assistant secretary of health since February 2003. Her responsibilities include oversight of the U.S. Public Health Service, the construction of a women's hospital in Afghanistan and the promotion of "research integrity and ethics." In January, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee, sent Beato a nine-page letter to ask about the questionable claims in her resume. Beato and HHS attorneys currently are "in the process of going back and answering the questions being raised" to ensure that they "provide thorough answers," HHS spokesperson Kevin Keane said. Until the questions are answered, the Bush administration will not comment on her nomination, Keane said. However, unnamed sources at HHS and in Congress told the Post that "there is a growing likelihood the Senate will not vote on her nomination" (Connolly, Washington Post, 6/10).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.