Steven Mnuchin could soon be one of the major federal health insurance system shapers.
Donald Trump, the president-elect, has announced that Mnuchin, an investment banker and movie producer, is his pick to be his Treasury secretary.
The Treasury Department oversees the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS helps administer the Affordable Care Act commercial health insurance market provisions, together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.
In some ways, the Treasury Department may be the most important of the three entities involved in administering the ACA public exchange program, health insurance coverage premium subsidy programs, and coverage mandate requirements, because the IRS can use penalties to enforce compliance with ACA requirements.
Related: IRS is PPACA enforcer, lawyer says
Trump has proposed repealing and replacing the ACA as quickly as possible. Many of the Republican proposals for replacing the ACA involve use of tax credits and tax-advantaged savings accounts that would probably be administered by the IRS.
Mnuchin, a Republican resident of Washington, Connecticut, who was born in New York City, worked for New York City-based Goldman, Sachs & Co. for 17 years. He has helped raise millions of dollars for New York-Presbyterian Hospital by hosting fundraisers for the hospital.
Mnuchin has also been a major fundraiser for the UCLA Health System. In 2013, for example, he made headlines by hosting a major fundraising event for a UCLA Health System pediatric health research program.
Mnuchin does not appear to have a visible health policy paper trail. But, because of his work as the founder of RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC, a Burbank, California-based film finance company, has ties to many film trailers. At press time, the Internet Movie Database showed that he had one film producer credit and 33 film executive producer credits. The IMDb credits appear to be related to his role as a supplier of financing, rather than for hands-on production work.
The trailers, or promotional videos, the filmmakers made for those films may not reflect Mnuchin’s own policy views, but they may provide some insights into the views of the people surrounding him, and they include better special effects than typical health policy videos.
Here is a sampling of the trailers:
This recently released film may be one of the Mnuchin-related films with the most obvious connection with health care and social services policies.
It deals with storks’ efforts to get an unborn baby to a human family.
The film reflects skepticism about large, bureaucratic systems.
Hunter, a stork, says of the “new and improved Human Infant Production Facility” that, “We have perfected and streamlined the process, devising a zero-mistake work flow. Using the most cutting edge technology coupled with over 75 years of hard-won experience, our new process has been described as: perfect, precise, flawless, ideal, immaculate, no problemo, error-proofed, too-good-to-fail, the opposite of the Titanic.”
Soon after that, the facility loses track of a baby.
2. ‘Central Intelligence’
In this 2016 film that lists Mnuchin as an executive producer, a Central Intelligence Agency agent turns to a mild-mannered high school friend, who happens to be an accountant, to help him deal with an enemy of the state that has stolen the encryption keys for the entire U.S. satellite program.
“I need your super sweet accounting skills to help me figure out the last piece of this puzzle,” the spy tells the accountant.
In the real Affordable Care Act world, the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has taken a lead role in analyzing ACA program performance and looking for evidence of compliance problems related to the ACA tax provisions.
3. ‘Rules Don’t Apply’
In this Mnuchin-executive-produced film, which was released Nov. 23 and is still in the theaters, a romantic comedy about an actress and a driver who work for Howard Hughes, the filmmakers show what it’s like for ordinary people to work for billionaires.
The Affordable Care Act employee-counting rules have focused a great deal of benefits community and Internal Revenue Service attention on complicated employment arrangements, and, if the arrangements in this film were in place today, they could raise complicated employment status questions.
4. ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’
This is yet another film with an executive producer credit for Steven Mnuchin that was released earlier this year.
In this film, Batman has deal with concerns that letting Superman have unchecked power could cause problems for the world.
The film raises questions about the kinds of regulatory oversight that powerful entities may or may not need.
The film also may have some bearing on partisan gridlock. At one point in the film, Diana Prince, who is also known as Wonder Woman, says, “Many made a world where standing together is impossible.”
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