3. Top Romney aide becomes king of the Obamacare consultants:
Speaking of Obamacare, in almost every serious story about its implementation, there’s a quote from someone at a firm called Leavitt Partners, which is typically referred to as a consulting company that is helping states to build their insurance exchanges.
The firm is run by Michael Leavitt, a former three-term Utah governor, who was Health and Human Services Secretary in the George W. Bush administration. Leavitt, himself, is often quoted in these stories opining on how difficult launching the program will be. However, he also points out that the Bush administration’s Medicare prescription drug program also had major problems early on but ultimately got its sea legs.
Leavitt’s measured stance on Obamacare — that it’s now the law and that it can be implemented successfully if done right — is obviously good business; the underlying message is that his firm can help the states do it right. But there’s also an interesting political twist to Leavitt’s new prominence. Leavitt was a close Mitt Romney 2012 campaign adviser, and toward the end of the campaign he ran Romney’s transition planning and was seen as a likely Romney White House chief of staff.
Romney repeatedly vowed during the campaign that the repeal of Obamacare would be an immediate priority if he got to the White House. And since the election, most Republicans at the state level who oppose Obamacare have refused to participate in its implementation, forcing the federal government to make plans to operate the insurance exchanges in those states. Yet when Leavitt or others at his firm are quoted in these articles about Obamacare it is almost always in the context of consulting work they are doing for states that have opted to build their own exchanges.
It appears from its website that Leavitt Partners has more than 60 full-time professionals and advisers, many with blue chip credentials. They work in five basic subject areas ranging from “Medicaid” to “Food, Drug, Device and Dietary Supplements.” There’s also a private equity investing arm.
The division called “LP Center for Health Insurance Exchange Intelligence” doesn’t list all the state exchanges it is advising, but I bet it’s most of them, as well as a slew of what it describes as “health insurance payers, technology vendors, and trade organizations” who want help in dealing with Obamacare.
There’s got to be a great story around the irony that Leavitt seems to be enjoying a more prosperous transition in the Obama administration than the one he would have presided over in a Romney White House.