March 10, 2011

Pentagon announces Baldacci’s new job

By Jonathan Riskind
Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- Former Maine Gov. John Baldacci was hired on a one-year basis to be the director of the Department of Defense's Military Health Care Reform Initiative, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

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Gov. John Baldacci

MaineToday Media reported Tuesday that Baldacci had landed the job of overhauling military health care, but the Pentagon did not provide more details until late Wednesday afternoon, when it issued a written statement. Baldacci declined to comment when contacted Tuesday and Wednesday at his office.

The defense department's written statement did not say how much Baldacci is being paid, although it did say there is an option to extend the appointment beyond a year.

The department also did not answer questions about how Baldacci was hired and whether the Democrat, who left office this year after two terms as governor, sought the job or was recruited.

Public affairs employees did not respond to requests for further information.

Baldacci is working for the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Clifford L. Stanley, who is "conducting a full-scale review and evaluation of military health care and wellness," the defense department said Wednesday in a statement in response to questions about Baldacci's new job.

The department said Baldacci will work with other military health care officials and called his job a "temporary project where he will review, evaluate, assess and make recommendations" to Stanley for "necessary reforms for the military health care system."

The department also released a statement from Baldacci, saying, "I'm excited to work with and for our military to make sure they have access to the highest quality health care while they are deployed and when they come home."

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Tuesday that Baldacci is a "great choice" for the job, because he has a lot of experience with health care issues, military and civilian, from his work as governor and as a member of Congress from 1994 through 2002.

Jonathan Riskind -- 791-6280

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