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The Jehoshua Novels


“The architect of Obamacare basically lives in the revolving door of sleaze”

The headline is a direct quote from Glenn Greenwald as he tweeted a must-read link to Trudy Lieberman’s piece on one Liz Fowler.

Essentially, Fowler first worked for the Senate Finance Committee, where she ensured that the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law prohibited government from negotiating drug prices down, having to pay what the drug companies charged. Then she moved to WellPoint as a vice president overseeing the giant insurer’s lobbying activities.

Fowler then returned to Senate Finance in 2008 to work for Sen. Max Baucus, who chaired the committee, which was becoming Action Central for health reform. Fowler and Baucus pretty much wrote the bill that became Obamacare—and which, we should note, did not include a proposed “public option,” which was popular with ordinary people but not the insurance companies that lobbied hard to make sure it was out of the mix.

For her services Fowler was rewarded with yet another government job, as deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services.  In her HHS job she had to “balance” the interests of consumers and insurers. Then this week Politico’s Dave Levinthal and Anna Palmer had a scoop: Fowler is returning to the private world, this time to a senior level position leading global health policy at Johnson & Johnson’s government affairs and policy group.

That same prohibition against the government negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical makers got transcribed into the Affordable Care Act, something sure to make Fowler’s new employer a whole shit-ton of money. And, of course, Fowler got richer and better connected through all this, gaining ever more respect from the other sleazy revolving-door denizens of DC.

Lieberman writes ” it’s stuff like this—the role of the lobbyist turned government employee, the nitty-gritty of legislation—that we know so little about”. Too true. It’s a well-paid industry and exists in a bubble which doesn’t give a flying fig about the needs of common Americans.

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