Boehner Aide Flip-Flops on Obamacare
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The Fiscal Times
May 12, 2014

When people talk about the revolving door in Washington, they’re usually referring to legislators and their aides already friendly to a particular cause or industry leaving Capitol Hill to go work in that space. On Monday, though, a top aide to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), made a more surprising announcement – he’s about to become the spokesman and vice president of communications for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group representing health insurance companies.

The surprise lies in the fact that over the past several years, Buck’s boss has helped facilitate dozens of votes in the House of Representatives aimed at repealing, crippling, or otherwise undermining the Affordable Care Act – a law AHIP plainly supports.

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While the group has its quibbles with the law – it doesn’t like the new tax on corporate health insurance benefits, the minimum coverage requirements, or the restrictions on using age to set policy prices – repealing the law is clearly not something AHIP wants. And, not surprisingly, AHIP is strongly in favor of one of the most controversial elements of the law – the individual mandate, which requires everyone to have health insurance. “The insurance market reforms included in the ACA cannot work without an individual mandate,” the group wrote in talking points for its members.

In December, Buck was on the record saying Obamacare, as the law is called, is beyond repair. "Legislating is certainly possible, but we don’t believe the law can be truly 'fixed' -- only scrapped entirely. Our focus will be on building the case for repeal through proper oversight," he told Talking Points Memo.

Just last month, after Boehner suggested that Obamacare might be too hard to get rid of, Buck was quick to provide the press with a restatement of the GOP’s position: “For four years now, the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace,” he said.

Boehner on Monday credited Buck with helping engineer the Republican takeover of the House in 2010, and said, “I’ve appreciated his advice, his energetic advocacy, and his wit every step of the way."

In a press release, AHIP president and CEO Karen Ignagni called Buck "an effective communicator who knows how to tackle complex policy issues and skillfully navigate an ever-changing health care and media environment."

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A longtime reporter on the intersection of the federal government and the private sector, Rob Garver is National Correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. He has written for ProPublica, The New York Times and other publications.