By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 10/2/2009 9:51:09 AM ET 2009-10-02T13:51:09

Claim: Insurance firm WellPoint has links to current and former aides to Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus.

The overhaul which Congress is now debating will have a significant effect on insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, hospitals, and other sectors of the economy. Many firms have hired lobbyists to try to persuade members of Congress to modify provisions in the legislation that would hurt their companies and add provisions that would benefit them. It’s not uncommon for former congressional staffers to work as lobbyists and former lobbyists to work on congressional staffs.

Fact or fiction?
Fact. Elizabeth Fowler, now serving as counsel to Baucus on the Finance Committee, worked as an executive, not a lobbyist, for WellPoint, the largest publicly traded commercial health benefits company from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that, she'd worked for Baucus. Committee spokeswoman Erin Shields called Fowler "one of the brightest health care minds in the Senate and she and the Finance Committee staff have been working day and night" to reach the goal of reform that "lowers costs and ensures quality affordable health care coverage," which is Baucus’s priority. Shields added that "the only factor that influences his decisions and the decisions of his staff is whether a policy is right for his state and for the American people." According to Senate records, Michelle Easton, former chief health counsel to the Finance Committee under Baucus, is lobbying for WellPoint for her firm Tarplin, Downs & Young.

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