The Max Baucus WellPoint/Liz Fowler Plan


All this time I’ve been calling Max Tax health care Max Baucus’ health care plan.

But, as William Ockham points out, it’s actually Liz Fowler’s health care plan (if you open the document and look under document properties, it lists her as author). At one level, it’s not surprising that Bad Max’s Senior Counsel would have authored the Max Tax plan. Here’s how Politico described her role in Bad Max’s health care plan earlier this year:

If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer. 

As a senior aide to Baucus, she directs the Finance Committee health care staff, enforces deadlines on drafting bill language and coordinates with the White House and other lawmakers. She also troubleshoots, identifying policy and political problems before they ripen. 

“My job is to get from point A to point B,” said Fowler, who’s training for four triathlons this summer in between her long days on Capitol Hill.

Fowler learned as a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania that the United States was the only industrialized country without universal health care, and she decided then to dedicate her professional life to the work. 

She first worked for Baucus from 2001 through 2005, playing a key role in negotiating the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Feeling burned out, she left for the private sector but rejoined Baucus in 2008, sensing that a Democratic-controlled Congress would make progress on overhauling the health care system. 

Baucus and Fowler spent a year putting the senator in a position to pursue reform, including holding hearings last summer and issuing a white paper in November. They deliberately avoided releasing legislation in order to send a signal of openness and avoid early attacks. 

“People know when Liz is speaking, she is speaking for Baucus,” said Dean Rosen, the health policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

What neither Politico nor Bad Max himself want you to know, though, is that in the two years before she came back to the Senate to help Max craft the Max Tax plan, she worked as VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint.

So to the extent that Liz Fowler is the Author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well. 

68 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Update the post, yeah…You are correct! WO’s find deserved it’s own post!

    This is actually a find, WO & EW, that progressives will be able to validate the need for a public plan.

    Can we see the hands of advocates representing those who have been steamrolled financially by health care costs, who contributed to this fine piece of legislation?


  2. Slothrop says:

    Total scam, from beginning to end. “Health care reform” = if you get sick, go ahead and die. The CEO’s bonus checks must not be delayed.

  3. Rayne says:

    Fine catch, WO. Excellent.

    And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that Fowler was hired by Baucus’ office precisely because of her experience with WellPoint.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Nice job, WO! I wish I could say I was shocked, but realistically that plan has been an industry plan from the beginning.

    Boxturtle (Wonder how Baucus will spin that)

  5. Rayne says:

    Can we finally change the conversation now from left vs. right, Dems vs. Repubs, and call it what it is?

    People-care vs. Profit-care

    And apparently Profit-care doesn’t care what ideology it hides behind, it only wants a warm host to use for its propagation.

    • SouthernDragon says:

      Let’s call it what it really is. The ruling, aristocratic, capitalist, elitist (your choice) class versus the working class. It’s called class warfare and the working class is once again beginning to wake up. Perhaps this time we can stay connected and not stand by and watch as the ruling class (my choice of description) rapes the country.

      The founders of our country were aristocratic, rich white men who believed those who owned the country should control it. It took a number of amendments to our Constitution over a couple hundred years to change that agenda. There are those who would return to the original plan and I will fight them until hell freezes over. Then I’ll fight them on the ice.

  6. CasualObserver says:


    Baucus has no regrets about hiring Fowler.

    “Liz is one of the smartest, most effective, most conscientious persons I’ve ever met,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Hill. He also emphasized her demeanor. “Always smiling, always upbeat, always positive, looking for good public policy solutions,” he wrote.

    For her part, Fowler says, “I don’t know that I’ll ever have a job that I love that much.”

    She says that she might have gotten off easy compared to some staffers. During her years on the Finance Committee, Congress was moving legislation to increase payments to healthcare providers that had been cut before she came to Congress. “When I was on the Hill, people liked me because I was working on bills that gave away money,” she says. “I always joke that the reason that I have a lot of friends is ’cause I got to give away money.”

    But the signature legislative accomplishment, and personal experience, of her time with the Finance Committee was the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit. Fowler was at the center of negotiations that led to the 2003 enactment of the Medicare Modernization Act.

    • CasualObserver says:

      Above was a story from The Hill. Can’t find it in The Hill’s search engine, but it shows up as cached page in google search. Date is 12/12/06.

      She just loves giving money away.

    • joanneleon says:

      But the signature legislative accomplishment, and personal experience, of her time with the Finance Committee was the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit. Fowler was at the center of negotiations that led to the 2003 enactment of the Medicare Modernization Act.

      They better not try to put Kennedy’s name on this.

  7. klynn says:


    People-care vs. Profit-care

    That is the bottom line and this slip will go far in defining that.

    Obama better have a good public option now.

    • klynn says:

      I posted this comment on another EW post earlier today:

      I am not sure if it is just the BCBS folks we are protecting. I really think this is about the banks and investment houses as well.

      A really good number cruncher can take the figures being projected for the middle class and probably figure how many will go into bankruptcy. I wonder, for I am not a financial wiz, if some kind of CDS investment scheme could be set up on projections of middle class financial ruin due to government insurance rates,dictated by the insurance industry, which will guarantee the financial failure cascade? And is the industry holding hands with the financial industry on the projections of this cascade, looking to the future payoff?

      EW, looks like Frank gave you another post!

      Once you have the financial industry tied to this, the public option wins. After we bailed out the financial industry, they want to kill us?

      Front and center on this connection is critical to the fight for a PO.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I really think this is about the banks and investment houses as well.

        I agree completely.
        The manufacturing sector has been heavily looted, then blamed on unions.
        The health care sector appears to be the most profitable, so it’s a safe bet that Wall Street has been active in the background on health care legislation.

        It’s essential that more Americans recognize health care is now a sock puppet for Wall Street.


        As for WO’s sensationally good catch, my only regret is that EW hadn’t put the ‘tell’ online. Plenty of instructors have tracked down student cheating this way. Just sayin’.

    • klynn says:

      10 Firms Cleared to Repay Bailout Loans

      (June 10, 2009 –Same day as the Goldman Sachs healthcare Conference)

      The announcement comes one day after the Treasury Department authorized ten of the largest bailout recipients to pay back some $68 billion in taxpayer loans. President Obama made the announcement at the White House.

      President Obama: “Several financial institutions are set to pay back $68 billion to taxpayers. And while we know that we will not escape the worst financial crisis in decades without some losses to taxpayers, it’s worth noting that in the first round of repayments from these companies, the government has actually turned a profit.”

  8. SaltinWound says:

    A collection of William Ockham’s comments should be in a bound volume. I’d do it but I don’t have those kinds of bookbinding skills.

  9. Jo Fish says:

    And we’re all surprised that Obama is “desperate” for a healthcare bill that benefits his corporate supporters and donors, why? I’m sure that MadMax is feted daily in briefings as the “Man who gives us cover” to collect the large donations for 2012.

    After all, we’re only voters, citizens and patients. Not important folks like corporate CEOs and Masters of the Universe.

    • pseudonymousinnc says:

      So I saw a headline that people will be fined $3800 for not buying forced crappy insurance.

      $950 per person, capped at $3800 if you have more than four non-extortees in your family.

      And of course, BCBS and co will have the IRS doing the collections. Nice work, corporate whores.

  10. maggiesboy says:

    Oh cut the crap. Fowler was hired as a condition to the size of their contributions to Club Max. What a freakin’ sham. The fact that he hired an advocate for the insurers over an advocate of the patients shows just how sick the old fart is.

    This is definitely a case where nothing is better than something even worse. This calls for a Maxectomy stat.

  11. punaise says:

    hey, birthin’ health care is hard work! them Blue Dawgs is getting rubbed raw:

    Well Point meant whelp ointment.

  12. Twain says:

    These clowns in Congress don’t even bother any more to hide their crimes. They don’t care if we hate them and think they are a bunch of bought and paid for crooks. They just want the money.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I wonder how much Ms. Fowler’s “round tripping” will cost taxpayers and how much she will personally earn within the first twenty-four months after she returns to the private sector after having accomplished its wishes on her first return to the public sector.

    How many times will Ms. Fowler make her round trip from public to private to public sector job? (A fairground ride the GOP once had a stranglehold over that has now gone bipartisan.) I suppose it depends on how many brass rings there are to be had by crafting or spiking legislation for her “former” clients. Round tripping would seem for consumers to be unsafe at any speed.

    • Twain says:

      I would like to find a way to really make Baucus’ life miserable about this but outside his state you can’t even e-mail him. Any suggestions?

        • Twain says:

          Too easy. And against the law. I’d like something like a huge letter writing campaign – not only TO him but ABOUT him. Newspapers in his state, etc. I want people to know what he has done.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not at the moment. I think its bunk that Congresscritters with national responsibilities refuse to accept e-mails from outside their states. They want national authority via their committee chairs and assignments, but only local accountability – as do health profit insurers and credit card companies. The latter they often easily avoid, making them accountability to no one outside the Village and the University Club.

  14. Blub says:

    We need to have at least a 5 year delay on any revolving doors, heading a both directions. If you want to go from being an insurance company exec to sr legislative aid in charge of drafting legislation relating to insurance companies, you should have to do something else for 5 years. If you want to go back to being an insurance company exec, you should have to wait another 5 years. That should shut down this gravy train.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    We may find out tomorrow whether Mr. Obama wants to be a one-term president. He may well piss off so many people that they vote in the 2012 primary for Howard Dean or Joe Bloggs instead of Mr. O. Those same pissed off voters may vote for a write-in candidate in the general, allowing another nut case Republican like Newt Gingrich to become president.

    If I were Obama, I would not rest easy with the observation that the Newtster would make Bush or McCain seem sane and competent. Voters vote against the guy or gal in office, not for the guy or gal who would replace them. I would also not rest easy assuming that having failed to win a second term, Obama or Rahm could blame liberals or the silent majority and have it stick. The blame will be all theirs. And having steered Obama from massive victory to Poppy Bush like self-defeat in a few short years, Rahm Baby could then kiss his own political future goodbye. But what irreparably damage will he and Obama have done by leaving an opening for Newt or Mitt and letting them walk through it?

    • solerso says:

      Maybe rahm will retire to a brand new condo in a gated(and concrete reinforced and sandbagged) community on the west bank

  16. solerso says:

    “For her part, Fowler says, “I don’t know that I’ll ever have a job that I love that much.”

    I guess not

  17. LKN2 says:

    Fowler knows the health insurance industry is in trouble without the personal mandate. Job losses and stagnant incomes mean people will increasingly decide to go without health insurance. So, government to the rescue! Now your health insurance bill will be elevated to the “must pay” category, along with payroll taxes and income taxes. If there’s any money left over, you can pay for those non-essentials like food and housing.

      • tk1200 says:

        That’s the Blue Dog rallying cry, like “Save the Children” or “Save the Whales” in other quarters. “Save the Insurance Industry” does have a nice ring to it. I wonder if it will work.

  18. roxsteady says:

    We’ll be sure to make sure this gets out. The Whitehouse and Mad Max need to know that we are aware of this. The Progressives and Liberal’s in the House should know this as well!

    • SouthernDragon says:

      Has anybody heard from Biden period? Either this guy is doin’ some heavy duty behind the scenes stuff or he’s stuffed in a closet somewhere out of the way. I figured we’d see this guy all over the tube on Sundays, etc. Nope. When’s the last time anybody saw a clip of Biden makin’ a fool of himself with his mouth? Or just talking without making a fool of himself.

  19. BiggusDiggus says:

    This is a major smoking gun in my opinion about the naked corruption of the senate by the health care industry. Figures it took a blog reader to make this discovery instead of the MSM. This ought to be a headline and topic of discussion on every news show. But then again, the MSM takes heath care industry advertising money, so you probably won’t be seeing these inconvenient facts. Bravo for catching this!

  20. LKN2 says:

    Karl Manheim article in LA Times makes the case that the mandate is unconstitutional:…..itutional/

    The proposal to tax individuals who decide not to purchase health insurance is problematic. Used as a punishment, it really is more of a fine, not a tax, imposed without due process. It would likely be very expensive to enforce – money that could actually be used to provide health care.

    • InnocentBystander says:

      And the Democrats will own it! I can just imagine how the Republicans will use this against us in 2010. A total lose/lose. It almost like they want to lose the next cycle and put the Republicans in charge to torment Obama for the next 2 years. I’m beginning to think the current crop of Democrats would prefer to be in the minority and let the Republicans, who don’t give a rat’s backside, control. Democrats really seem to like being the “lesser of 2 Evils”.

  21. TexasReader says:

    Speaking about conflicts, the new Assistant Secretary of Labor was most recently a lobbyist for the AFL-CIO. Both teams, Ds and Rs, speak out of both sides of their mouths. So much for the “No lobbyists in my administration pledge.”

    When will the public realize that both parties are corrupt to the core?

    • cinnamonape says:

      It’s the Secretary OF Labor,fer Chrissakes. For years it’s been filled with people who were Corporate operatives…finally there is someone who is actually in favor of helping working people.

    • PJEvans says:

      Secretary Hilda L. Solis was confirmed as Secretary of Labor on February 24, 2009. Prior to confirmation as Secretary of Labor, Secretary Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, a position she held from 2001 – 2009.

      From the Department of Labor website.

      I see nothing wrong with appointing a Congresscritter to a cabinet post, especially when it’s one of their interests. It beats selling it to a campaign contributor.

  22. wedidit says:

    Ah yes, Sanford with his hands clutched over his heart and blurting out his everyday words, as he prepares to die: “Elizabeth, the big one!! I’m coming Lizzy!!”

    Sanford would have so many of his Heart Attacks with these Democratic Politicians who go against their promises!

  23. tbsa says:

    “People know when Liz is speaking, she is speaking for Baucus,” the insurance industry.

    That’s better.

  24. OccasionalObserver says:

    Occam’s Razor actually has two applications. As Baucus is superfluous relative to Fowler, so Fowler is relative to Wellpoint. By these steps we arrive at the parsimonious ontological scheme known as corporatism.

  25. mvicuna says:

    The Author property on a PDF is also indicative that the PDF was created on a machine they were signed into, using a tool registered to them, or that someone typed in “Liz Fowler” as the author property.

    Trying to draw conclusions about who authored the document’s contents based on the Author property of the PDF is a bit presumptuous. I would even call it foolish.

    • redX says:

      That is a foolish statement.

      Trying to draw conclusions about an Author by who is listed by the author is foolish….HA.

      You know I bet mvicuna did not even write that because that is such a foolish statement.

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