Congressional Aides For Health Care Have Industry Ties
"Some of the most influential aides in the closed-door Senate Finance Committee negotiations over health care reform have ties to interests that would be directly affected by the legislation," Politico reports. An aide to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., for example, "worked as a highly paid public policy adviser for WellPoint Inc., the nation's largest publicly traded health benefits company." The Health Policy Director for Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, "is married to a registered lobbyist for a firm that represents drug companies and hospital groups."
"There's no evidence that the aides' ties have shaped the bill that Baucus hopes to release Tuesday, and the ultimate decisions over its provisions rest with the senators themselves. But critics say the involvement of such well-connected insiders could lead to dangerous conflicts." Politico adds that "[a]ll across Capitol Hill, a number of former lobbyists, consultants and advisers for firms that represent consumers, patients, hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers are now in key positions in the House and Senate, according to a review of public records" (Raju, 9/15).