Obamacare highlights healthcare lobbying corruption

Washington’s health care revolving door is spinning fast as the new online health insurance marketplaces, a central provision of President Obama’s health care law, are set to open Oct. 1. Those who had a hand in the law’s passage are now finding lucrative work in the private sector, as businesses try to understand the complex measure, reshape it by pressing for regulatory changes — or profit from it.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/us/politics/reaping-profit-after-assisting-on-health-law.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp
Dr. Dora Hughe, a former Obama administration official, has something Washington lawyers and lobbying shops covet: an insider’s understanding of the new health care law.
After nearly four years as counselor to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, she left government last year to work for Sidley Austin, which represents insurers, pharmaceutical companies, device makers and others affected by the law. She is not a registered lobbyist, but rather a “strategic adviser,” although some call that a distinction without a difference.
The health care industry now spends more money on lobbying in Washington than any sector of the economy — more than $243 million last year alone, slightly higher than the $242 million spent by financial, insurance and real estate companies.
Of the “revolving door lobbyists” profiled by the center, those specializing in health care account for 12 percent, more than any other economic sector.
Former officials are cashing in, trading on the relationships and expertise they acquired while working for the taxpayers, and cite such career moves as proof that Mr. Obama has not lived up to his promise to change the culture of influence peddling in the capital.
Liz Fowler, a onetime executive with WellPoint, the insurer, helped draft the legislation as the chief health counsel for the Senate Finance Committee and later joined the administration. Now she runs global health policy for Johnson & Johnson, the medical equipment and pharmaceutical giant, which strongly backed the health bill and stands to benefit from it.
Under federal law, lobbyists must register if they meet certain conditions, like spending 20 percent or more of their time contacting officials on behalf of clients.
Earl Pomeroy, a Democrat and former congressman from North Dakota. He voted for the health care bill, lost his seat and now represents health care clients as a lawyer for Alston & Bird. Elizabeth Engel, who oversaw health legislation and served as a liaison to Congress when she was a deputy assistant health secretary under Ms. Sebelius, is now advising health care clients for the Glover Park Group.

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