Just because the Medicare drug benefit legislation was enacted late last year doesn't mean there aren't more Medicare issues to deal with on the Hill and in the administration -- meaning, of course, continuing work for lobbyists.
The Renal Leadership Council has turned to Alston & Bird for lobbying help. And Alston & Bird's team includes Thomas Scully, the former Medicare czar; Colin Roskey, former health policy adviser to the Senate Finance Committee; and Marc J. Scheineson, former associate commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
"It's a very nice team here. They have a lot of expertise," said Marilyn Yager, executive director of the council, who operates out of Alston & Bird's D.C. office. Yager is a veteran of the Clinton White House Office of Public Liaison.
The council, which represents four of the largest renal care providers -- Fresenius Medical Care, DaVita Inc., Gambro Healthcare Inc. and the Renal Care Group Inc. -- still has issues of Medicare dialysis reimbursement, quality of care and patient access, Yager said.
Report Studies Lobbying on Medicare Bill
Speaking of health care lobbyists . . . Public Citizen yesterday put out its study on the lobbying of the Medicare legislation, called "The Medicare Drug War." According to its analysis of federal lobbying disclosure records, drugmakers, HMOs and related groups hired at least 952 lobbyists last year and spent nearly $141 million to push their agenda on the Hill and at the Bush White House.
"Passage of the Medicare bill set in motion an exodus from the Bush administration" to help clients "benefit from the Medicare bill that they wrote or promoted," according to the report.
The report cited Thomas Scully; Thomas Grissom, director of the Center for Medicare Management, who went to work for medical device maker Boston Scientific; Dallas Sweezy, director of public and intergovernmental affairs at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who ended up at Loeffler Jonas & Tuggey; and James C. Capretta, the top official on Medicare policy development at the Office of Management and Budget, who recently joined Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates.
The Public Citizen report, whose primary author is Craig Aaron, is packed with lobbyists' names and connections, recent and old.
For D'Arcy, a Beginning -- and the End
Clark & Weinstock is celebrating new hire Christopher D'Arcy, who arrived earlier this week from government relations boutique Will & Carlson. But the lobby shop will really be celebrating July 1, the end of D'Arcy's year-long cooling-off period on his lobbying of Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Resources Committee, and of the House Agriculture Committee, of which Pombo is a member. D'Arcy was a legislative director for Pombo and staff director of Agriculture's subcommittee on livestock and horticulture.
"You are a little handicapped in your first year off the Hill," D'Arcy said.
Clark & Weinstock's Edward Kutler said the firm already does resources and agriculture work, but hopes D'Arcy will work with two new colleagues -- former House members Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) -- to build up the practice.
From the Capital City, Boosting the Second City
It's not quite going back home, but Peter Halpin, a third-generation Chicagoan and veteran Democratic lobbyist, took over the Washington office of the mayor of Chicago this week. He succeeds David Yudin.
"It's a great city. . . . This is a dream job for me. Mayor [Richard] Daley is a great mayor," Halpin said. The big issues for Chicago, he said, are transportation funding, housing, criminal justice and the Great Lakes.
Halpin was director of congressional affairs for the Department of Transportation in the Clinton administration and managing director for congressional and intergovernmental affairs for the Overseas Private Investment Corp. He ran his own consulting business and worked as a lobbyist for Cassidy & Associates, a Fleishman-Hillard subsidiary, and GPC/O'Neill & Associates.
This may be pushing it, but Robb and Blair Watters, husband and wife, are extending their partnership to the lobbying biz. Blair, most recently director of special projects for the House Democratic Caucus, is joining her husband's lobby boutique, the Madison Group, next month.
"Our marriage is a great partnership that will extend to our workplace," he said.
Robb, a Republican, notes that the shop will be bipartisan. He's expecting to hire four more folks this year for the Madison Group, which he founded in January after leaving Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
Moving On . . .
Furthermore . . . The lobbying buzz in town is that GOP lobbyist Lori Laudien, a former tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee and to the late Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.), is joining Goldman Sachs and Co.'s Washington office as vice president for government affairs.
She will be shuttering her own shop, Keystone Market Strategies, which she formed only late last year after leaving her lobbying job at El Paso Corp.
Bob Knisely, a 28-year veteran staffer of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, is joining Cornerstone Government Affairs July 1. Knisely also worked two years on the Senate Appropriations Committee staff.