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HHS Committee endorses Aiken for Central Health

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

LBJ School of Public Affairs Assistant Professor Abigail Aiken is one City Council vote away from being the newest member of Central Health’s Board of Managers. On Monday, and after a lengthy executive session, Council’s Health and Human Services Committee unanimously voted to recommend that Aiken get the call to fill the position, which is appointed jointly by the city and Travis County. Last week, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted to make Aiken its primary choice, while also giving outspoken Central Health critic Fred Lewis runner-up status. Last Thursday, attorney Bob Ozer, an ally in Lewis’ demands for more transparency at the hospital district, distributed a letter warning of Aiken’s potential conflict of interest. Ozer noted that Aiken works for the University of Texas’ Center for Health and Social Policy, which has a financial partnership with Seton Healthcare Family. “The presence of another UT Professor on the Central Health Board who is an employee of a Center that has a partnership with Seton, as well as a partnership affiliation through a Joint Operating Committee with the Dell Medical School, will only exacerbate concerns in the community that Central Health has in effect been annexed by UT and Seton in order to promote their financial interests at the expense of the provision of healthcare services to the poor,” Ozer wrote. However, on Monday, Council Member Delia Garza said, “We asked questions about that, and we are comfortable with her response and, mainly, I think the point was that she is not an employee of the center that has a relationship with Seton.”

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