The Trump administration’s pick to lead the problem-wracked Indian Health Service has a track record of financial problems that include a filing for bankruptcy and failing to pay federal taxes on a business he ran, a new report says.
Robert Weaver, the nominee to run the Indian Health Service, already was facing heightened scrutiny after an earlier Wall Street Journal report suggested that he had “misrepresented his work experience at a Missouri hospital to a Senate committee.”
In a new article Tuesday, the Journal reported that Weaver, 39, omitted on his public resume that he had worked as a practice manager for four years at a Missouri psychological clinic.
Weaver, a member of the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma, did, however, disclose his tenure at the clinic to a Senate committee reviewing his nomination.
The post oversees an agency that has a $6 billion budget and operates more than two dozen hospitals. IHS provides health care to more than 2 million Native Americans, who have a right to such services from the United States as a result of treaty obligations with Indian tribes.
The founder of the clinic told the newspaper that Weaver had fallen far behind in his responsibilities of billing insurers and collecting payments during his tenure from 2004 and 2008. The founder, Dr. Herndon Snider, told the Journal he would not recommend Weaver for another job unless Weaver was closely supervised.
The Journal reported that Weaver, before he worked at the clinic, had filed for personal bankruptcy in 2001, listing debt of $25,000 against an annual income of about $26,000 from his job at a Missouri hospital.
The newspaper also reported that, several years after Weaver started an insurance and benefits consultancy, the IRS filed two liens against the company in-mid 2010, because of $120,000 in unpaid taxes.
The IRS released the liens in early 2012 after Weaver paid the taxes, according to the article.
Asked for comment on the Journal’s article, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which oversees the Indian Health Service, said: “The suggestion that Mr. Weaver is unqualified to be Director of the Indian Health Service is nothing but an attempt at pure character assassination.”
CNBC has reached out to Weaver seeking comment.
In its earlier article about Weaver’s job experience, the Journal questioned the characterization by the Trump administration that he had “nearly two decades of experience in hospital, mental health administration.”
The article quoted several former executives at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., as saying they had never heard of Weaver. He had told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in a document that he worked there in “supervisory and management positions” at the hospital at a time when those executives worked there.
A 2016 report by HHS found that Indian Health Service employees said they were “struggling to meet patients’ basic needs” at the agency’s hospitals, and that as a result some patients were dying.