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Health Care: 10 Staffers to Know

Snowe’s unique position as a key vote to help Democrats reach the magic filibuster-proof 60 votes puts Pewen in demand and makes for an intense schedule. “He definitely has his hand in nearly everything,” one Senate Democratic aide said. “He is the only person I know who carries two BlackBerrys.”

Pewen’s role was apparent in the fight over health information technology, where the results of his central role in ensuring more stringent privacy protections for electronic medical records were included in the economic stimulus package.

Specifically, Pewen made certain that the bill included a provision requiring that certain unintentional disclosures of patient medical data be considered breaches and thus subject to penalties.

Wendell Primus, senior policy adviser for budget and health to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Age: 62
Birthplace: Eldora, Iowa
Education: B.A., Ph.D., economics, Iowa State University

Primus encompasses the mind of a policy wonk with the political skills acquired through a 30-year career on Capitol Hill. Now, as the Speaker’s right-hand man on one of the top issues before Congress, lobbyists say Primus has hit his career stride.

“Throughout his career, this is the job where I’ve seen him be the most impressive,” said a longtime health care lobbyist.

Primus began his legislative career on the House Ways and Means Committee, working on issues from income security and welfare reform to Medicare.

He began working for Pelosi four years ago, and today he oversees the complex task of moving legislation from the committee table to the president’s desk.

“My role is to advise the Speaker on health care reform and manage legislation at the staff level,” Primus said. “It’s making sure that all the bases are touched, from policy development and cost estimates to the press and various stakeholders.”

Primus will no doubt play a leading role in crafting legislation aimed at achieving the ambitious overhaul of the current health care system both the Speaker and the president have called for.

“It is a tremendous challenge and opportunity all wrapped into one,” he said. “This, how we get health care costs under control, should be a bipartisan issue.”

Click here for a slideshow of the 10 Health Care Staffers to Know.

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