Previously, they worked behind the scenes to help shape the Affordable Care Act. Today, they roam the streets of the nation’s capital as consultants and lobbyists.
And now this elite group of Washington insiders stands to profit handsomely from the full implementation of Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law.
“More than 30 former administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staffers who worked on the healthcare law have set up shop on K Street since 2010,” The Hill reports.
Many Washington lobbying firms, including Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, The Glover Park Group, Alston & Bird, BGR Group, and Akin Gump, have scooped up former Obamacare insiders. This, as the Hill report notes, puts the firms “in a prime position to land coveted clients.”
“When [Vice President] Biden leaned over [during the signing of the healthcare law] and said to [President] Obama, ‘This is a big f’n deal,’ ” Ivan Adler, a headhunter at the McCormick Group, said in the report, “he was right.”
The former Obamacare insiders now work on behalf of corporations, including Delta Air Lines, UPS, BP America, and Coca-Cola, and healthcare companies including GlaxoSmithKline, UnitedHealth Group, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Former Obamacare insiders are seemingly taken on for one reason: to help companies navigate the massive and complicated health care law.
“Healthcare lobbying on K Street is as strong as it ever was, and it’s due to the fact that the Affordable Care Act seems to be ever-changing,” said Adler. “What’s at stake is huge. … Whenever there’s a lot of money at stake, there’s a lot of lobbying going on.”
And because companies are desperate for help understanding the massive and constantly-evolving health care law, they’re willing to pay a premium for the service — meaning former insiders stand to profit handsomely from a bill they helped write.
Former insiders who are pulling in the most cash for their first-hand knowledge of the bill come primarily from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the report notes.
“Demand for … insiders,” The Hill reports, “is even higher now that major pieces of the law, including the healthcare exchanges and individual insurance mandate, are being set up through a slew of complicated federal regulations.”
“Congress is easy to watch,” said Tim LaPira, a politics professor at James Madison University, “but agencies are harder to watch because their actions are often opaque. This leads to a greater demand on K Street” for people with first-hand knowledge of the bill’s intricacies, he said.
“K Street’s agenda follows the government’s agenda. It’s not typically the other way around,” he said.
Many see the rise in demand for former Obamacare insiders as a clear example of Washington’s so-called “revolving door” between politics and business.
“After passage of major legislation, those who have networks on Capitol Hill take exceedingly lucrative jobs with the same industries subject to the legislation,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen. “It raises questions about the [bill’s] integrity.”
Further, the White House has also resorted to seeking lobbyist help navigating the finer details of the health care law.
“The White House brought on Clinton administration veteran and former lobbyist Chris Jennings last month to help navigate the implementation of the law,” The Hill notes.
“During a call with several directors of the state healthcare exchanges on Wednesday, Jennings was seated in a plum position — right next to Obama,” it adds.
Click here to read more about the rise of the Obamacare lobbyist.
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