Chief health aide to Baucus is former Wellpoint executive
By Kevin Connor  •  Sep 01, 2009 at 09:32 EST

Senator Max Baucus’s chief health adviser, Elizabeth Fowler, has been called the “chief operating officer” of the healthcare reform process by Politico — the staffer who sets legislative deadlines, coordinates with the White House on policy, and is understood to speak for Baucus on health policy issues. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein has called her the most influential health staffer in the Senate.

Fowler, as it turns out, is also fresh off a lucrative stint working for the insurance industry: from 2006 to 2008, she was VP of public policy for Wellpoint, the insurance giant.

That’s right, an insurance industry hack is the quiet name directing the healthcare reform process on Capitol Hill.

It gets worse. Baucus’s chief health advisor prior to Fowler, Michelle Easton, currently lobbies for Wellpoint as a principal at Tarplin, Downs, & Young.

Baucus & chief health aide Liz Fowler

Baucus & chief health aide Liz Fowler, former Wellpoint executive.

Fowler worked for Baucus as chief health aide from 2001 to 2005, as well. The revolving door is spinning so fast, in this particular case, that it’s hard to tell whether Baucus prefers hiring directly from Wellpoint, or vice versa (or maybe they use the same headhunter?).

These ties were uncovered through our project with citizen journalists at the Huffington Post Investigative, which aimed to track down Congressional staffers-turned-healthcare lobbyists. We’re in the process of wrapping up the project, which so far has identified 450 staffers-turned-lobbyists. Analyst @sundin was the first to notice Easton’s trips from Capitol Hill to K Street and back.

Klein and the Politico both failed to mention Fowler’s insurance industry ties, while hailing her as an important figure in the healthcare reform process. The Politico mentioned her time in the private sector without getting into specifics, and Klein called her hiring by Baucus reason for hope, without mentioning where she was hired from.

Whatever the reason for the omissions, it’s a good illustration of why LittleSis matters, and why research projects like this one will play an important role in the emerging news ecosystem.

We’ll have more on the dynamic duo at the Baucus-Wellpoint nexus, and potential policy implications, over the next week.

7 Responses to “Chief health aide to Baucus is former Wellpoint executive”

  1. Eyes on the Ties » Chief aide to Baucus is former Wellpoint exec. » HealthCare 09 Says:

    [...] Eyes on the Ties » Chief aide to Baucus is former Wellpoint exec. Eyes on the Ties » a blog by LittleSis » Blog Archive » Chief health aide to Baucus is former Wel…. [...]

  2. where’s the outrage? « 4&20 blackbirds Says:

    [...] i have had just about all the news i can stand about stuff like this. [...]

  3. Eyes on the Ties » a blog by LittleSis » Blog Archive » Baucus tax chief is former insurance and pharma lobbyist Says:

    [...] when you thought the Baucus revolving door couldn’t spin faster: the Senate staffer responsible for devising the tax policies at the heart of the Baucus plan is a [...]

  4. Eyes on the Ties » a blog by LittleSis » Blog Archive » Baucus’s last health chief? Also a Wellpoint lobbyist. Says:

    [...] week, I noted that the key Baucus healthcare staffer is a former insurance executive. Now, Liz Fowler’s stint at Wellpoint is getting some more attention, as her electronic [...]

  5. C. Pruett Says:

    We have a former insurance executive helping to give us a decent health care plan? What a deal we are going to get!!!!! Guess whose side she is on. We can’t win for losing to the members of congress!! Fed up!!!

  6. Fold/Spindle/Mutilate 2.1 » Blog Archive » Dem Senator Is Queen Of Cash From Health Industry Says:

    [...] TIES Kevin Connor at LittleSis makes note of the fact that Senator Max Baucus’ chief health adviser, Elizabeth Fowler, who [...]

  7. Investigations 196 | Best Magazines Says:

    [...] Key Adviser on Health Care Reform Is Former Insurance Exec [...]

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