State Hires Former Medicaid Bureaucrat to Help Lobby Federal Government for a Medicaid Waiver

When the state of Oregon wanted a federal waiver for its Medicaid program, what it do? It hired lobbyists to make the state's case to the federal government. Ponder, for a moment, that state governments spend taxpayer dollars on private sector lobbyists hired to lobby the federal government. But don't ponder too long without asking who these lobbysist are, and, more importantly, who they used to be: Turns out they're former federal health policy staffers with experience in both Congress and the Medicare/Medicaid bureaucracy—in other words, people with direct experience running the system from the inside. 

We know this because The Examiner's Timothy Carney has flagged a revealing lobbying disclosure filing:

Client: State of Oregon
Lobbying Firm: Alston & Bird
Issue: "Assisting the State of Oregon to obtain a waiver for the states Medicaid program."
Lobbyists: Thomas Scully, former administrator of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services; and Stephanie Kennan, former health-policy director for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

As Carney writes, it's a conveniently rigged system, at least for those who can play: "Congress imposes mandates on other entities, but gives bureaucrats the power to waive those mandates. To get such a waiver, you hire the people who used to administer or who helped craft the policies." It also says plenty about the lack of state flexibility within the Medicaid system: If it was easy for states to get permission to innovate and run their Medicaid programs as they saw fit, then they wouldn't need to hire well-connected lobbyists to help walk them through the process of obtaining a federal waiver. 

More on our not-so-flexibile Medicaid system here and here

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  • Meiczyslaw||

    See, this is one of the reasons I thought the Seventeenth Amendment was a bad idea.

    Senators voting in the interest of their state -- what a radical idea!

  • GSL||

    Interesting. Oregon, after all, got a federal waiver back in 1989 to redesign its Medicaid system using cost-effectiveness analysis to allocate funds. You'd think people like Don Berwick would be salivating at the thought of more states doing that. One wonders if they're drawing on that experience and hoping to pursue an Obamacare-unfriendly path.

  • mb||

    if you are high enough up, you become a lobbyist, otherwise you become a regulatory consultant.

  • GSYSDTL||

    That's pretty much the US & state tax systems. High nominal rates and a ton of giveaways. Periodically, they float a threat to a special tax dispensation (Oil depletion, wind farms, mortgage deduction) and the inteersted parties send checks for the next reelection. The politicians are selling indulgences and Ron Paul is Martin Luther, except with less success

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    how good !!!we are a trade website, mainly engaged in all kinds of polo shirts. OurWorld Cup polo shirtsnow. Welcome to our website for shopping.

  • Juice||

    When the state of Oregon wanted a federal waiver for its Medicaid program, what it do?

    Is Steve Smith a staff writer now?

  • ||

    ""Turns out they're former federal health policy staffers with experience in both Congress and the Medicare/Medicaid bureaucracy—in other words, people with direct experience running the system from the inside. ""

    So? Many lobbists are DC insiders which are close to, or worked for a previous administration, or Congress.

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