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Tim Carney: Obama nominates drug lobbyist to defend Obamacare at HHS

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Politics Digest

William Schultz was a revolving-door lobbyist for Barr Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the morning after contraception pill. He also donated to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, but it was two weeks after he deregistered as a lobbyist, so it was fine.

Today, Schultz is acting general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services. On Tuesday, President Obama — for the second time — nominated Schultz to take the job full time.

That means Schultz will be defending the contraception mandate that benefits his largest-ever lobbying client. I wrote about this last year:

Nearly half of that money — $1.46 million — came from Schultz’s biggest client, Barr Laboratories, maker of the morning-after contraception pill known as Plan B. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in 2011 issued a rule requiring nearly all employer-based health plans to cover 100 percent of the cost of Plan B along with other contraceptives.

A handful of lawsuits have challenged this mandate. As general counsel for HHS, Schultz would presumably be the point man on defending the mandate. Has he been recusing himself? Schultz’s office dodged my question on the subject.

Plenty of other litigation facing Schultz directly affects his former clients. Oklahoma, for instance, is challenging HHS’s authority to subsidize federally established insurance exchanges. The drug companies and hospitals Schultz represented take the administration’s side, lobbying for more federal subsidies of health insurance.

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