Posts Tagged ‘affordable care act’

Much Ado About SOTU

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 by Vbhotla

MANY AMERICANS VIEW the State of the Union address as a lot of rhetoric and not much substance.  But for lobbyists and policymakers, what the president does (or doesn’t) say can make or break an issue.

As POLITICO notes, if Obama even briefly mentions an issue or a piece of legislation, it can make the difference between the issue gaining traction in Congress or wasting away. Further, if the President talks about something for which a lobbyist is advocating, it can generate massive credibility for both the lobbyist and his firm, even if they had no part in getting it mentioned in the speech.

Following this year’s speech, for example, LGBT groups were disappointed that Obama made no mention of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Indeed, Obama barely touched on LGBT issues at all, making only a brief reference to marriage equality.  As the Huffington Post notes, this may be indicative of the administration’s view that it has enough political capital with the LGBT community that it can afford to ruffle some feathers.  The case nonetheless demonstrates both the impact of the SOTU as well as the delicate political maneuvering involved.

Likewise, the guests invited by members of Congress (each lawmaker is allowed one) can have legislative implications for the coming year.  Predictably, as PBS notes, more than a dozen Republican members brought business owners and individuals who were negatively impacted by the Affordable Care Act.  By the same token, Democrats brought guests who benefitted from the ACA.  Democrats (especially the Illinois delegation) also brought at least five immigration advocates.  Some lawmakers took a decidedly less conventional approach, though.  POLITICO reports that Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) brought Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty.”  This blogger wonders if Rep. McAllister will now get to appear on the show.

As with most things in Washington, the State of the Union comes with a side of rhetoric and political bluster.  Although every word of the State of the Union need not have far-reaching policy implications, it’s clear that for lobbyists, policymakers, and political forecasters, the Address can have a significant impact on the year to come.

ACA Begets New Breed of Experts

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 by Vbhotla

IT STANDS TO REASON that the most comprehensive healthcare reform in nearly 50 years comes with a lot of fine print and red tape. What lobbyists and lobbying firms are discovering is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also generates a lot of revenue.

The Hill reports that big lobbying firms are clamoring for Obamacare veterans. Many of K Street’s largest firms, including Akin Gump, Alston & Bird, and The Glover Park Group now have someone who was involved in the creation of ACA on their rosters, as do the lobbying wings of a number of major corporations.

Why are Obamacare insiders such a hot commodity? A law with the size and scope of ACA is subject to incredibly complex regulations and fine print, so having someone on staff who can explain that to clients is invaluable to firms. Additionally, much of the law is being implemented by the agencies, which are not subject to the same level of transparency as Congress. From The Hill:

 “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 is why, as The Hill notes, veterans of the Department of Health and Human Services are among the highest-paid Obamacare specialists.

But the industry experts aren’t the only ones reaping benefits from knowing the ins and outs of the act.  Law firms are also yielding gains by attracting clients from the multitude of industries that will be impacted by the law’s provisions. Although lobbying revenues have been on the decline in 2013, the influx of ACA specialists should help things improve.

Because the implementation of ACA is staggered, with some provisions going into effect immediately while others trigger in 2014 and beyond, it seems clear that ACA insiders will continue to enjoy a high demand for their services.  Whether they’ll be needed in three, four, ten years hence is more dubious.

Lobbying at a Glance

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT regulations that would require retail food sellers to label the calorie content in their food are rousing lobbyists from every corner: “Some pizza companies have demanded more flexibility, grocery and convenience stores insist they should be left out of it altogether and movie theaters really don’t want to shout out how many calories are in those buckets of popcorn.” – POLITICO

Ex-Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will become a lobbyist, the latest in a growing list of recently retired lawmakers migrating to K St.: “The former senator has been named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). He will be the group’s chief spokesman and primary advocate in Washington. NAIC is made up of state insurance regulators and helps coordinate their oversight across the country.” – The Hill

Ex-Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will become a lobbyist…again: “Like Democratic moderate Evan Bayh before him, Nelson is taking two K Street jobs. In addition to the NAIC, Nelson will be a ‘senior partner’ at public affairs firm Agenda.”  Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner adds: “Ben Nelson, as a Senator, provided crucial support for both [the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank]….This is one reason moderates have the quickest track to K Street. Their economic vision is generally both pro-business and pro-government. Whatever effect this has on business and the economy, it makes lots of work for lobbyists.” – The Washington Examiner

Four years after his executive order banning lobbyist gifts to executive agency appointees and slowing the revolving door, the President’s “lobby posture” is attracting revivified scrutiny: “Most lobbyists have complained that Obama’s executive orders on the revolving door have kept out some of the savviest policy experts, who are registered lobbyists. Further, they say, by branding registered lobbyists, whose clients and fees are publicly disclosed, with what amounts to a scarlet letter “L,” Obama has increased the ranks of the unlobbyists, those who peddle influence but don’t register with Congress.” – Roll Call

Disclosure reports are in, revealing a lackluster year for lobby firms: “Few K Street firms were able to escape the downward pull, with even industry leaders Patton Boggs and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld reporting a drop in their lobbying revenue from 2011….Lobbyists across the board expressed high hopes for the year to come. A reelected and reinvigorated president and a Congress more willing to consider big legislative items should be the ticket to stronger growth, they said.” – The Hill

A $100 cap on lobbyist gifts in Georgia is stoking some interesting debate: “One argument supporting higher legislator pay ties into the gift issue: If lawmakers earned more, they “would be less likely to feel entitled to the free meals, booze, and tickets to concerts and football games” given by lobbyists.” – Smyrna-Vinings Patch