UnitedHealth hires top HHS reform official

The move may indicate the Supreme Court will rule against the reform law, industry insiders whisper

The top official in charge of implementing health reform is leaving the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and heading to the private sector to take a job with UnitedHealth.

Steve Larsen, head of the HHS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, will resign in July to become an executive vice president for UnitedHealth subsidiary Optum, which provides various healthcare services, Bloomberg reported.

Many industry insiders are wondering whether the departure indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court will be ruling against the health reform law. One industry source told Politico that Larsen may have resigned after receiving "some indication that the court ruling is not going to be good and that he doesn't want to start over or try to pick up the pieces."

However, Larsen said his decision was made "100 percent for personal and family reasons," including paying for his children's college tuition, and didn't consider the high-court ruling or its potential impact, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Larsen will be replaced temporarily by Mike Hash, who has been intimately involved in health reform implementation, serving in various positions in the White House and HHS. Most recently, Hash was director of the HHS Office of Health Reform, LifeHealthPro reported.

As for UnitedHealth, its unit Optum is excited to welcome Larsen to the company. "Steve's extensive, broad-based experience in healthcare will further enhance the support Optum provides to the health system and consumers in a rapidly evolving environment," Optum officials told LifeHealthPro.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg article
- see the Politico article
- read the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the LifeHealthPro article

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