Lombardo rubber stamps Sisolak’s appointee to Patient Protection Commission
Gov. Joe Lombardo is invoking his predecessor, Gov. Steve Sisolak, in defending his appointment of pharmaceutical lobbyist Flo Kahn as the lone representative of the public on the state’s Patient Protection Commission, a board designed to improve health care in Nevada.
“For continuity, Flo Kahn was reappointed to her seat on the commission, which she was originally appointed to by Governor Sisolak,” Lombardo’s spokesperson Elizabeth Ray said Monday via email.
Kahn, who lives in California, not Nevada, is the director of state government affairs for AbbVie, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in America. She was previously state government affairs director of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Sisolak’s appointment of industry-friendly individuals to the PPC, including Kahn, raised concerns shortly after its creation. Kahn initially filled the seat reserved for a representative of the pharmaceutical industry. The commission lacked any representation from the public.
That changed in 2021 when then-Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton sponsored legislation to diversify the commission’s membership and shift the focus from for-profit providers by reducing the number of industry representatives and adding a member to represent the public.
Khan protested the changes as a “huge mistake” according to the commission’s minutes. Sisolak subsequently shuffled chairs on the commission and appointed Kahn to represent the public.
Khan declined at the time to address the inherent conflict in representing the interests of PhRMA and the public. She did not respond to requests for comment on her reappointment.
The pharmaceutical industry, which is responsible for the research, development, production and distribution of drugs, enjoyed an estimated $1.48 trillion in revenue worldwide in 2022.
Lombardo’s spokeswoman would not say whether the governor believes the interests of the pharmaceutical industry and the general public are aligned.
Lombardo has been lukewarm to the PPC, a creation of the Sisolak administration, and asked the Legislature this year not to pursue two of three bills forwarded by the commission.
Assembly Bill 6 would have established an advisory benchmark for annual increases in health care costs. It died in committee. AB 11 would have expressly prohibited hospitals from directly hiring doctors in some circumstances. Doctors are generally contracted by hospitals. Lawmakers approved AB 11, but it was vetoed by Lombardo.
“I realized last session that the Governor was not supportive of the commission or patient advocates when he requested they not submit BDRs they had been working towards a consensus on for months,” Carlton said via email when asked about Lombardo’s appointment of Kahn. “My goal was to leave behind a process to address the serious issues Nevadans have with all aspects of healthcare. I do hope the PPC stays focused on patients and not the for profit industry of health care.”
Lombardo’s other appointees include
- Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell as a patient advocate
- Wenette Simons as a patient advocate
- Jalyn McKelleb representing non-profit hospitals or nurses
- Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick representing a non-profit public hospital
- Bethany Sexton representing a private non-profit health insurer
- Walter Davis representing the uninsured
- Andria Peterson as an advocate for those in need of specialized care