Sources: Top staffer on healthcare reform effort headed to HHS

The chief health counsel to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is expected to leave the panel soon to work for President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services.

Sources on Capitol Hill and K Street tell The Hill that Liz Fowler would join the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO), which is charged with implementing many of the provisions of the healthcare reform law that she helped write.

Fowler, a former vice-president for public policy and external affairs with the insurance giant WellPoint, has been credited with writing many of the provisions in the centrist healthcare bill approved by the Senate Finance panel.

Many of those provisions were included in the final bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. Having her work for HHS makes sense for the administration as it seeks experts to put the law in place. But Fowler's past ties to the insurance industry have also made her a target of criticism from some on the left.

Some activists believe the law made too many concessions to the insurance industry, notably because it lacks a public option. Fowler's departure from the Finance panel was widely expected after her high-profile work on healthcare reform came to an end.

No word yet on what she'd be doing at OCIIO, or who would replace her on the committee.

Baucus' office did not respond to a request for comment.

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