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New Centene CEO is another example Obamacare's architects getting rich off Obamacare

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As the former head of the federal health exchange, Counihan is well placed to guide Centene towards new profits. (Image courtesy screenshot)

On Tuesday, Vox.com's Obamacare public relations chief tweeted the following.


Sarah Kliff's take is a ludicrously generous assessment. The reporter is referring to the recent decision by former healthcare.gov CEO, Kevin Counihan, to join a health insurance company, Centene. Unlike many other insurers who have withdrawn from the exchanges, Centene is finding success in Obama's wonderland. Amusingly, Kliff suggests Counihan for moral rather than monetary reasons.

I think her assessment is a stretch.

As the former head of the federal health exchange, Counihan is well placed to guide Centene towards new profits. And it's clear where those profits wait. As I've explained, Centene's business model is utterly dependent on the Obama administration's massive expansion of Medicaid. Indeed, with 3.5 million of Centene's customers on Medicaid, the government trough is Centene's heart, aorta, and lifeblood.

Counihan will be able to grease Centene's wheels by engaging with his healthcare.gov contacts to help his new employer anticipate regulatory changes and subsidies. In return, Counihan is likely to collect a healthy paycheck.

Still, there's a broader issue at play here. While Centene is expanding its coverage, it is only doing so under the expectation that Obamacare will remain the law of the land. Again, the company cannot profit without the provision of Medicaid and federal subsidies.

Yet it seems clear that the market believes Obamacare is here to stay. Take the decision of investment firm Osborne Capital to expand its Centene holdings by 30 percent. The market clearly believes that the subsidy-state will keep doling out new sums.

In turn, there are two takeaways from this development. First, that it is profitable to be a member of Obama's "hope and change" alumnae. Membership of that club gives former public officials a key to command big sums in the private health sector. After all, they offer a key to the door of Obama's big government. Of course, in that regard, Obamacare also now encapsulates corporate cronyism.

As Kimberly Leonard reported on Monday, other Obama administration officials have also been appointed to senior positions with private insurance companies. The trend lines are clear.

Too often, we hear that Obamacare is all about the moral provision of health care in America. Perhaps we should start asking whether those supporting Obamacare are as pure as they claim?

As Ali Meyer notes, Obamacare's purity is painful for the rest of us.