Monday, October 19, 2009

Podesta Brothers Play Both Sides of Health Care Reform


Seeing Rick Scott, the former Columbia/HCA CEO, bandied about as the poster boy for dishonesty is nothing new. A John Podesta/Center for American Progress piece linking Scott to a known health insurance lobbyist got me thinking about Rick's day job. He's CEO of Solantic, an urgent care and occupational medicine provider.

Solantic is an affiliate of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. WCAS General Partner Tom Scully sits on Rick's board. How might WCAS benefit from deep sixing health insurance reform?

It didn't take long to find Universal American Corporation, a health insurer. Tom Scully sits on the board of Universal American. Medicare Advantage plans provide UA with half its revenues and is by far their most profitable product line. They'll make $115 million in profit from Medicare Advantage alone in 2009. These plans are slated for a big haircut to pay for health reform. That won't do in the private equity underwriting (PEU) world.

Guess who Universal hired to lobby on its behalf? It's the Podesta Group, operated by John's brother Tony. The Podesta Group received $140,000 from Universal American through June 2009. During the six month period the firm lobbied on the following issues:

Medicare Advantage
Prescription Drugs
SCHIP
They lobbied the following groups:

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
U.S. SENATE
Office of the White House
Health & Human Services - Dept of (HHS)
I'm surprised they didn't lobby Tim Geithner's Treasury. Universal American has $45 million in unrealized losses in mortgage backed and asset backed securities, according to its latest financial report.

It's odd. One Podesta throws the spotlight on Rick Scott, while another Podesta lobbies for Rick's wider corporate family. Maybe WCAS will hire Tony to keep their preferred taxation on carried interest?

Don't forget uber health care lobbyist Tom Scully. He has plenty of Alston & Bird dogs in this fight. It's a red and blue mess, funded by lots of green. It's clear the average citizen will see very little of the green.