Phil Schiliro returns to help spearhead White House health-care policy

December 7, 2013

The White House is bringing back its former  legislative affairs director Phil Schiliro to help oversee its health-care policy efforts.

Schiliro, who played an instrumental role in helping secure the passage of the Affordable Care Act while serving as the president's chief congressional liaison between January 2009 and January 2011, moved to New Mexico with his family after leaving the White House.

"We are focused like a laser on reducing health care costs implementing the Affordable Care Act, and Phil will be vital to ensuring it is done right," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said in a statement. "Anyone who has worked with him, knows Phil has the expertise, the wisdom, and the relationships to tackle any project -- large or small. We are blessed to have him back."

A senior administration official said Schiliro is "coming back for a short-term appointment to help coordinate the policy implementation" of the law, which continues to come under fierce attack from Republicans. The official said Schiliro "will work with all relevant administration agencies," including Health and Human Services, the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice, as well as Congress, in his new post.

Schiliro, a longtime former aide to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) who spent more than a quarter-century on Capitol Hill, has strong ties to Democratic lawmakers who have become nervous about the health-care law since the troubled Oct. 1 launch of the federal health-insurance marketplace.

The New York Times first reported news of Schiliro's return Friday night.

In a statement, Schiliro said he took the job because he is invested in the law's success.

"We moved to New Mexico to go in a new direction, but this is important to the President," Schiliro said. "A law that guarantees coverage to millions of Americans, improves quality, and saves hundreds of billions of dollars is worth fighting for. I hope to help with that effort."

Juliet Eilperin is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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