Office of the Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
Wednesday morning, October 28
Just across Independence Avenue and past the Botanical Gardens soared the white marble dome of the Capitol. As Merritt waited in Secretary Vickers’ formal office she could see the U.S. Capitol where she had worked until Senator Tidwell had asked her to join the President’s transition team.
Occasionally she missed the personalities and drama that the tangled politics of the Hill generated on a daily basis. Progress there was deliberate but at least measurable: legislation enacted, appropriations approved, history made with moving speeches from the floor of the Senate and House, coalitions forged to articulate positions of the Legislative Branch.
The Executive Branch could move with speed if not stealth. Sunshine in government meant open proceedings and a full airing of policy development. For Merritt, however, movement of government around her had not been speedy. In fact, it had been glacial recently except, of course, for the disturbing data uncovered about Delaware General.
The premature or ‘managed’ deaths, as Mike Nichols had described it, of clients of Delaware General Insurance Company were more than curious. What had begun as a simple exercise in asking the insurance company to share information about how they recorded solid profits in a tough industry and regulatory environment had morphed into something else, something Merritt knew was not explainable by statistics or medicine, something she needed to take to the Secretary…