The Montana newspaper The Billings Gazette reported nearly a month ago that Liz Fowler, a former vice president of Public Policy at the insurance giant WellPoint, was joining the Obama administration to help implement the new federal healthcare law. Fowler is also a former staffer for Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, who is infamous for having several single-payer advocates arrested last year during hearings on healthcare reform. Fowler was also instrumental in killing the public option in the final legislation.
Now, the Washington policy blog, The Hill, is reporting that Fowler has been officially named policy director for the Health and Human Services Department. The Huffington Post’s David Sirota wrote in July that Fowler’s appointment to the post smacks of corruption, and exposes how deeply defective the new healthcare law is:
Clearly, this is a telling indictment of the health care law itself, strongly suggesting that it was constructed by the Obama administration — as some progressives argued — as a massive taxpayer-financed giveaway to private insurers like WellPoint. And let’s be honest: In investment terms, Fowler has been a jackpot for the health industry. The industry maximized her public policy experience for their own uses when they plucked her out of the Senate. Then, having lined her pockets, they deposited her first into a key Senate committee to write the new health care law that they will operate under, and now into the administration that will implement said law. Any bets on how much Fowler will make when WellPoint (or another health insurer) inevitably rehires her in a few years?
Sirota makes some great points. This was a terrible appointment, and it should be reversed. Why should the public trust a former insurance executive to oversee the industry she used to work for?