Press picks up on health care connections

We’ve gotten two great mentions of our health care research this week in Politico and The Huffington Post.

Politico congressional reporter Manu Raju names Liz Fowler, Sen. Baucus’ current health adviser and former WellPoint lobbyist; Mark Hayes, Sen. Grassley’s health counsel who is married to a health care lobbyist; Frederick Isasi, Sen. Bingaman’s health policy adviser and former lobbyist at Powell Goldstein; and Kate Spaziani, senior health policy aide to Sen. Conrad, also a registered lobbyist at Powell Goldstein.

Raju writes:

And according to the group Public Accountability Initiative, which tracks politicians’ ties to various interests, more than 500 former congressional aides have gone on to become health care lobbyists.

Both lobbyists-turned-aides and aides-turned-lobbyists say they offer unique expertise and experience as lawmakers try to rewrite the nation’s health care laws.

“It gave me a very different perspective, leaving the Hill,” said Debbie Curtis, who spent two years as a lobbyist for the consumer advocacy group Consumer Action during the Clinton-era health care debate. Curtis is currently the chief of staff for Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the chairman of the powerful health subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Our connection of Sen. Mike Enzi‘s former health policy director Stephen Northrup, who is a current lobbyist for WellPoint, did not go unnoticed by The Huffington Post. Reporter Sahil Kapur also turned the tables on Enzi himself, revealing health giant Blue Cross Blue Shield is his biggest contributor.

That’s not all. Blue Cross Blue Shield is currently Enzi’s biggest contributor, according to the Center For Responsive Politics, having provided the Republican senator a total of $38,500 in campaign cash this election cycle. Overall, Enzi has accepted $793,711 from various health care industries since 2005.

Enzi, whose Gang of Six may decide the fate of health care reform, is the only senator to sit on all three committees tasked with drafting the the health care bill — the Finance Committee, Budget Committee and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee.

Stay tuned to Eyes on the Ties for more revealing connections between Congress and the health care lobby.

Update: We also have a nice mention over at OpenCongress which tapped our list of Obama administration czars using Health Reform Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle as an example of how our site maps people’s relationships.