Who says no one will benefit from the legal atrocity known popularly (or unpopularly as the case may be) as ObamaCare and officially as the Affordable Care Act?
“Healthcare lobbying on K Street is as strong as it ever was, and it’s due to the fact that the Affordable Care Act seems to be ever-changing,” Adler said.
“What’s at stake is huge. … Whenever there’s a lot of money at stake, there’s a lot of lobbying going on.”The voracious need for lobbying help in dealing with ObamaCare has created a price premium for lobbyists who had first-hand experience in crafting or debating the law.
Experts say that those able to fetch the highest salaries have come from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or committees with oversight power over healthcare. Demand for ObamaCare insiders is even higher now that major pieces of the law — including the healthcare exchanges and individual insurance mandate — are being set up through a slew of complicated federal regulations.
“Congress is easy to watch,” said Tim LaPira, a politics professor at James Madison University who researches the government affairs industry, “but agencies are harder to watch because their actions are often opaque. This leads to a greater demand on K Street” for people who understand the fine print, he said.
“K Street’s agenda follows the government’s agenda. It’s not typically the other way around,” he said.
Watchdogs say the rise of the ObamaCare lobbyist is another example of the “revolving door” that turns public service into private enrichment.
Of course this all leads to cronyism and favoritism. A government which is supposed to equally enforce any law for all is instead granting wavers and exemptions based partly on lobbying efforts from K Street and partly on companies or other legal entities holding a favored position with the administration. No connections, no exemptions.
So the new ticket to financial largess after government service is ObamaCare. What you need to reap this windfall is government experience in “crafting or debating” the law or having served with HHS in some sort of capacity with oversight over healthcare.
Those qualifications help one with the connections and the knowledge necessary to navigate the law and, if all things go well, receive a waiver or exemption. And the income potential for the lobbyist is unlimited:
While lobbying revenue at major firms has been flat or declining in recent years, the healthcare law has generated steady work — a trend that is likely to continue for years to come. That’s because ObamaCare runs on a long timeline, well into the next administration.
Unless the law is severely crippled, the reform’s rules and requirements will be rolling out through at least 2020. That’s good news for lobbyists who want to sign up clients for the long haul.
Of course it’s good news for lobbyists. It is money in the bank. Money which the company could be using for more important things, like product development or higher salaries for their employees. But no one understands the law and navigating it is all but impossible. The need for these services was all but built in to the aftermath of its passage.
However the bigger point is this was an administration which promised it would stop the revolving door of those leaving government service and cashing in as lobbyists based on their service. As with most of their “promises” the reality is quite different. Not only is lobbying by former administration members alive and well on K Street, it has a brand new, complicated law with a huge reach and a long life to play with.