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Late Night: Sister Max Baucus Explains It All for You

Let it never be said that I would criticize a man for showing emotion. And I have nothing but praise for people in powerful positions who share the spotlight and give credit where credit is due. And, of course, we all have to appreciate honesty and transparency in this age of misdirection, obfuscation, and triangulation. So, let me rise and extend my compliments to Senator Max Sieben Baucus (D-MT), who, in the midst of a dewy-eyed tribute on the Senate floor, said just about all you need to know about the new health care reform law, and the 14-month fight to shape it:

SEN. BAUCUS: We all want to thank so many people, unless we start mentioning couple three names we’re in danger of offending people whose names are not mentioned. We all know that. And there will be appropriate time to make all the thanks and I will make mine so sincerely because I’m so grateful for all the hard work my staff has put in this.

And I want to single out one person. And that one person is sitting next to me, her name is Liz Fowler. Liz Fowler, my chief health counsel, Liz Fowler is, put my team together, my health care team, Liz Fowler worked for me many years ago, since left for the private sector then came back when she realized that she could be there at the creation of health care reform, because she wanted to, in certain sense that be her professional lifetime goal. She put together that white paper last November 2008, um, 87-page document which became the basis, the foundation, the blueprint from which almost all health care measures and all bills both sides of the aisle came from. She’s an amazing person, she’s a lawyer, she’s a PhD, she’s just so decent, she’s always smiling, she’s always working, she’s always, always available to help any Senator or any staff. And I thank Liz from the bottom of my heart and in many ways she typifies, she represents all the people who’ve worked so hard to make this bill such an accomplishment.

There isn’t really much to add, but in the interest of super-full disclosure, perhaps Maudlin Max should have mentioned that during the time Ms. Fowler was away from his senatorial side, she served as VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint—one of the nation’s largest for-profit insurance providers.

It was the Fowler-authored Baucus plan that memorialized the secret deals that the White House cut with PhRMA, the AMA, the device manufacturers, the hospitals, and the insurance industry. We knew, even before Max’s Senate well confessional, that Fowler had written the bill because her name was mistakenly left on some pages of the electronic version of the document.

Now WellPoint, and most of its Big Med cohort, stand to profit quite nicely from the Obama-Baucus-Fowler plan that was signed into law on Tuesday. No doubt their CEOs and shareholders also wish to thank Liz from the bottom of their hearts. The rest of us? We’ll be thanking her from the bottom of our wallets.

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Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine

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