Leave it to the Brits to tell us Americans about our healthcare system. In this case the telling is done by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald (an American, by the way), who takes us back into the world of revolving-door lobbyists—the ones who come from industry, do a stint of government service for much lower pay, and then when it’s kosher again move back to the private sector to earn their keep until retirement.
Greenwald’s latest post leaps off some reporting by Politico to focus on the story of Liz Fowler, a name that is not new to CJR. Nor is it new to Greenwald, who profiled Fowler’s activities in a Salon blog post a couple of years ago.
Herewith is a brief Fowler curriculum vitae: In 2001 she had a plum job as chief counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with healthcare bills. As Greenwald’s old Salon post notes, her biography says she “played a key role” in the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law that created a new senior drug benefit—a benefit provided via private insurers, not the government, as is the case for other Medicare benefits. A few years later she landed a position at 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.
The revelation prompted Greenwald to take another look at Fowler and the revolving door. He writes: