Still more evidence that Wellpoint wrote the Baucus plan: the insurance company’s lobbying efforts in DC are headed up by Senator Mike Enzi’s former chief health adviser at Senate HELP, Stephen Northrup. Enzi is a member of Baucus’s so-called “Gang of Six” shaping the bipartisan compromise bill.
In fact, key provisions in the Baucus plan apparently draw on industry-inspired legislation first introduced by Enzi in 2006, while Northrup was still his chief health aide.
Consumer Watchdog first called attention to the similarities, particularly with respect to a part of the plan that would help insurance companies avoid state regulation:
The plan would result in a “race to the bottom” in health care regulation by allowing insurance companies that participate in “health care compacts” to choose the weakest state law to govern all their policies, regardless of which state the policies are sold in. Currently, insurance companies must abide by the state laws of any state where they sell insurance. The Baucus plan resembles an industry proposal carried by Mike Enzi (R-WY) in 2006 discussed below.
So this bill really did get written by insurance industry VPs — past and present. Liz Fowler, the current Baucus staffer who wrote the plan, was a Wellpoint executive last year. And Northrup, the former Enzi staffer who wrote the original iteration of this bill, is now on the Wellpoint payroll.
Northrup, who is on the growing LittleSis list of Congressional staffers-turned-healthcare lobbyists, was Enzi’s chief health aide from 2003 to 2006. He joined Wellpoint as vice president of federal affairs in Washington in 2007, and is “responsible for leading WellPoint’s advocacy efforts before Congress and various federal government agencies,” according to Modern Healthcare.
Northrup had been through the revolving door before, joining Enzi’s staff after serving as executive director of the Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance — just in time to help craft Part D, the Medicare reform widely considered a giveaway to pharmaceutical interests.
Even the trigger-shy White House has spoken out against Enzi, who has established himself as the most recalcitrant member of the Gang of Six (with Grassley a close second). There has been some question about whether the group would hold together, given the pair’s apparent unwillingness to compromise. But again and again, the gang has stuck together. On Wednesday, MSNBC reported that Grassley and Enzi were still at table.
Clearly, Wellpoint wants them there.