Former senator eyeing regional health services post

Photo Courtesy: MGNonline

BOSTON (SHNS) – A former senator and one of the key architects of the state’s health care reform efforts has applied for a job with the Obama administration.

Former Sen. Richard Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat who lost his seat to Webster Republican Ryan Fattman in November, is a candidate for the job of regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a disclosure he filed in an effort to dispel the appearance of a conflict of interest. The region directorship covers the six New England states – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut.

Moore, 71, disclosed that he applied for the job, as well as for the presidency of the Massachusetts Assisted Living Facilities Association in filings with the state Ethics Commission in December.

In an interview with the News Service before he left the Senate, Moore looked back on his career and acknowledged that he was eyeing several jobs.

“I’m interviewing for some positions and we’ll see what happens the next several weeks as to what those are,” said Moore, who also served as Senate president pro tem. “But I intend to be very active and continue to take an interest in state politics as well as other issues.”

Christie Hager, the previous regional director, left in December and started on Monday at Beacon Health Options, a managed behavioral health care company, as its senior vice president of client partnerships for New England. The firm is the result of a merger between Beacon Health Strategies and ValueOptions and is headed by Timothy Murphy, former Gov. Mitt Romney’s health and human services chief.

In 2010, President Obama tapped Hager, an ex-staffer for former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi during the creation of the 2006 health care reform law, for the regional director post. The job, currently filled by Betsy Rosenfeld in an acting capacity, has also been held by former state Reps. Phil Johnston and Brian Golden, who now heads the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Before Moore left office, he said he would serve in a volunteer capacity on a special task force on pandemic and emergency response, representing the National Conference of State Legislatures. Moore served as NCSL president from 2010 to 2011.

Moore, a self-described conservative Democrat, worked in the House from 1977 to 1994 and started in the Senate in 1996. Before his return to the Legislature, he worked as associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President William Clinton.

Along with the 2006 health care reform law and the 2012 cost containment law, Moore included on his list of accomplishments the passage of a workplace smoking ban; the creation of a pediatric palliative care network; and the effort to reconstruct Route 146, once known as “the Killer Highway” due to the number of accidents and fatalities. His former staffers include Congressman Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) and Associate Justice Gerald Lemire of the Uxbridge District Court.

Drawn into politics during John F. Kennedy’s campaign for president, when Moore was a high school senior, he went on to serve as a Hopedale selectman from 1970 to 1978. “It doesn’t take long in local government to realize that the state sets a lot of the rules and policies and so I was interested in getting into the Legislature,” Moore said.

When Moore was elected to the House it had 240 members, and when he was reelected, it had been whittled down to the current 160.

Moore recalled getting along with Democratic Gov. Ed King, since they were both “kind of conservative on the Democratic side.”

“Actually, I found dealing with the Republican governors, and I think the leadership did too, to be good in some respects because the governor needed the Democratic majority and leadership more in a way than he needed the Republican members because they could deliver the votes for some of his programs. And Weld was the master at it,” he said, referring to former Gov. William Weld.

With Democratic governors, such as Governor Michael Dukakis and Deval Patrick, “I think they kind of assumed that the Democratic majority would just go along with them,” Moore said. “But this is a part of the genius of John Adams, he didn’t like governors anyway because they’re all appointed by the king. So when he wrote the Constitution, he wrote the Legislature to have a fairly prominent role in state government, so it’s not like a president and a board of directors.”

Both Gov. Mitt Romney and Patrick came from the private sector, Moore said, and “I think they assumed that everybody would be on board. But legislators’ first duty is to get reelected, so they don’t necessarily go along with the governor if whatever they’re doing seems a little strange to their constituents.”

Moore said he expects Baker to be in the Weld mold.

“He’s obviously bipartisan in some of his appointments,” he said. “I don’t think he’s a hardcore right-winger by any means, because I think a governor with that philosophy would have a much harder time up here. But I think he’s someone who understands that you have to give and take and you can get a lot done if you work collaboratively with the Legislature.”

Moore served under four Senate presidents, including Sens. William Bulger, Thomas Birmingham, Robert Travaglini and Therese Murray.

“I know some people feel her personality is a little bristling, but I think she’s been very active in trying to make sure that the members are involved in the polices that are going through,” Moore said of Murray, who did not run for re-election last year. “For instance, on just about any health care issue, if somebody called about that, she would have them call me, and similarly with the other chairs. So it wasn’t like she was trying to grab the glory or whatever there is of it, with any particular issue.”

Travaglini was “tough when he needed to be,” Moore said, crediting him with the success of the initial health reform law.

Birmingham was more of a “scholarly type,” and his interests were split when he ran for governor and served as Senate president, Moore said. “And so he had a little bit of a difficult role in that regard, although I think he did a good job as leader as well.”

Moore praised Bulger’s preparation and debating skills and said the only one who could match him was former Sen. David Locke, the Republican minority leader.

Moore predicted Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) will be a “pragmatic” Senate president, a combination of Murray and Travaglini in some respects. “He’ll be socially liberal leaning but I think he’ll also be concerned about how do you pay for all of these great ideas,” Moore said.

“He’s certainly a workaholic and kind of a policy wonk but he also gets along well. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like him, including Republicans as well as Democrats,” Moore added.

Asked what he would change about being senator, Moore said he would like to see a four-year term for senators and representatives instead of two, in order to allow less focus on running for re-election. “It would reduce the campaign spending to some degree, too, by having 50 percent fewer elections for the Legislature,” he said.

Calling Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that has led to an increase in outside spending nationwide, a “major step backwards,” Moore said, “I know in my race and I know in several other races, money from outside the district played a huge role.”

Ryan Fattman, the former state representative, bested Moore in the Worcester and Norfolk Senate district by 6,112 votes and was sworn in last week.

Asked if he would’ve done anything differently in running for re-election, Moore said, “No. I mean, if I could’ve raised a lot more money that probably would have helped. If I had the time to go doing some door to door stuff, that might’ve helped, I’m not sure.”

“Some people told me, oh they voted for the other guy because he came to their house,” he added. “Well, my question is when somebody, a missionary comes to their door, do you convert to their religion, or when a vacuum salesman comes to the door, do you buy their product? Most cases they never go to the door to let them in.”

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