Dr. Dora Hughes spent the last few years inside the Obama administration shaping the Affordable Care Act. Now she gets paid to help health-care companies profit from it. She has monetized the expertise and connections she gained as a public servant, profitably putting them to work for private interests.
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 Times names a few other Obamacare authors now helping the affected companies turn the bill into profit: Liz Fowler, who went Baucus to Wellpoint to Baucus to HHS to Johnson & Johnson; Yvette Fontenot, who went Finance Committee to White House to K Street; Nancy Ann DeParle, who went White House to a health-care investment shop; Bob Kocher, from the White House to a health-care VC firm; Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., whose vote for Obamacare cost him his seat but won him a lucrative K Street gig; and Elizabeth Engel from HHS To Glover Park Group.
There are others the Times could have named. Since 2010, I've counted at least 30 congressional Obamacare authors who have become health-care lobbyists or consultants.
I had predicted this the moment the bill passed: "Health care reform means it's always Christmas on K Street." And, "You'll also see the Democratic staffers who wrote the bill rewarded with plush lobbying gigs."
A few points of context:
1) It's important, when understanding this phenomenon, to recall that most of the industries lobbying on Obamacare supported its passage — the drug lobby, the hospital lobby, and the doctor lobby — because they expected to profit from it.
2) Also, this revolving-door cashout is one reason big government tends to benefit big business: big business can afford the Liz Fowlers and Earl Pomeroys in a way that small business cannot. When you put the game in the arena of government, it's a home game for the big guys.
3) Finally, think about the incentives for staffers and lawmakers: to pass something, make it big, leave lots of discretion to regulators, increase government's role, preserve industry's ability to profit, help the big guys. This sounds like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank to me. It doesn't sound like good government.
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