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Obamacare architect cashes out to sue insurers, using Obamacare

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Is it relevant that the man who helped craft Obamacare’s regulations on insurers will now make lots of money by suing insurers based on those regulations?

The firm that hired him seems to think so. Here’s the press release: 

KEY OBAMACARE ARCHITECT JOINS MEHRI & SKALET, PLLC

Former HHS Director, Longtime Insurance Regulator Jay Angoff to Lead Firm’s Insurance and Healthcare Practice as Partner

WASHINGTON, DC (January 14, 2013)—After nearly three years at the Department of Health and Human Services—as the first Director of Obamacare insurance implementation, as Senior Advisor to the Secretary, and as a Regional Director—longtime insurance regulator and plaintiff’s attorney Jay Angoff is returning to DC-based Mehri & Skalet, PLLC as a partner, where he will lead the firm’s insurance and healthcare practice.

“Working at HHS has been immensely rewarding, and I’m pleased with the progress that has been made in implementing the Affordable Care Act,” said Mr. Angoff of his departure from HHS. “I look forward to returning to Mehri & Skalet to help make sure the law is enforced.  The Affordable Care Act has given health insurance policyholders new rights, and will give them even more in 2014; it is critical that we defend those newfound rights.”

Think about the incentives at play here: If you are a lawyer working for the government, and you shape the laws in such a way as to make lawsuits easier, you are then making yourself more valuable to a potential future employer.

The trial lawyer’s situation is a subset of the broader dynamic: Any congressional staffer or administration official makes himself more valuable to an industry by increasing government’s role in that industry. You can see this in the Great ObamaCare cashout – the parade of HHS officials and congressional aides crafting the legislation and then becoming health-care lobbyists or consultants.

It’s happened with Dodd-Frank, too. When Promontory Financial hired Chris Dodd deputy Amy Friend, the firm explained that she would work on:

the regulatory implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which, at 2,300 pages, is one of the most complex and wide-ranging overhauls of the financial regulatory framework in decades.

Of course, Friend was one of the Senate staffers who made the law so complex and wide-ranging.

More background on Angoff, from his new employers:

Mr. Angoff was appointed by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in February 2010 to oversee the implementation of the insurance reform provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including enabling young people to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26; requiring insurers to issue refunds if they spend more than 20% of the premium dollar on administrative expenses and profit; and prohibiting insurers from imposing lifetime limits or rescinding coverage. He also established the federal office responsible for the Exchanges—new websites that will give consumers greater purchasing power by forcing insurance companies to publicly display and compete on prices.

 

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