Corbett names new health secretary and inspector general

Posted: April 06, 2013

HARRISBURG - Gov. Corbett on Friday moved to fill two vacancies in the upper echelons of his administration.

Corbett said he would nominate acting Health Secretary Michael Wolf to permanently fill the post vacated last fall, and he tapped lawyer Michael Sprow to serve as acting state inspector general.

Wolf, 46, of Enola, a Harrisburg suburb, was director of worldwide public affairs and policy for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer before joining the Corbett administration in May 2011 as a top deputy to then-Health Secretary Eli N. Avila.

Wolf will lead an agency that employs 1,700, has an annual budget of $838 million, and is responsible for regulating health-care facilities, promoting health education, and monitoring infectious diseases. His nomination is contingent on confirmation by the state Senate.

Avila, a physician, left office in October after a series of attention-getting incidents, including a dustup over an egg sandwich that led to a lawsuit by a Harrisburg diner owner, and a state worker's complaint that Avila ordered a bloodmobile to vacate his Capitol parking space during a blood drive.

An administration news release Friday touted the Department of Health's efforts to increase access to health care in rural and underserved areas.

"Michael has proven his ability to manage this important department and is well-respected among his colleagues," Corbett said in a statement.

A state employees' union is suing the administration over a plan to close nearly half the state's 60 community health centers. Neil Bisno, president of Service Employees International Union Healthcare PA, faulted Wolf and cited a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that found the state's public health system is chronically underfunded and ranks near the bottom among states in public health spending.

"Instead of ensuring all Pennsylvania citizens access to health-care services, he wants to close nearly half the public health centers across the state and slash the level of public health-care professionals," Bisno said.

Wolf, whose salary is $149,804, has a graduate degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. He is one of only four non-physicians to be appointed health secretary since the post was created in 1951.

Sprow takes over for Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner, the former federal prosecutor who left the administration at the end of March to become general counsel to the University of Cincinnati. Sprow had served as Faulkner's chief counsel and earlier had worked as a prosecutor for the state Attorney General's Office.

Corbett also named K. Kenneth Brown II to serve as chief counsel for the Office of Inspector General. Brown joined that office in February after five years in the state Attorney General's Office.

Sprow and Brown were lead lawyers in then-Attorney General Corbett's prosecution of nearly two dozen individuals, including legislators and their staff members, in the so-called Bonusgate corruption scandal.

Several top members of Corbett's administration have departed in recent months, among them Environmental Secretary Michael Krancer, who resigned last month, and Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander.


Contact Amy Worden at 717-783-2584, aworden@phillynews.com, or follow @inkyamy on Twitter.

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