What sets Elizabeth Wroe apart from many other Senate aides is the way she approaches negotiations, a senior Democratic Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions staffer said.
Wroe, who serves as health counsel to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), always makes clear up front what her boss needs to support a bill, the senior aide said. And she is consistent, never wavering on the Senators terms throughout negotiations. The same cannot be said for many other staffers, who can change their demands day by day, which makes it difficult to work out deals with them, the aide added.
Im a big fan [of Wroe], and I dont say that lightly, the Democratic aide said. A senior Republican HELP aide called Wroe a team player who has been effective in communicating with outside groups and representing her bosss interests. Before health reform, Wroe had also played a central role in passing reforms to the Food and Drug Administration, including reauthorizing and increasing industry user fees used to fund agency safety inspections and reviews.
Wroe started to work for Gregg as a law clerk while attending the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 2004 and took a job with Gregg in the Senate Budget Committee after graduating. That clerkship opened my eyes to what you could do as a lawyer on the Hill, she said. Now she runs a three-person health team out of Greggs Budget office, taking the lead on health coverage issues and food and drug policy, including food safety.
Wroe now finds herself in the center of crucial committee negotiations on a far-reaching bill to overhaul the nations health care system in order to provide insurance for the approximately 46 million Americans who lack health care.
Wroe says her plan for these negotiations is to be as aggressive as possible in trying to further Greggs goals of expanding coverage while lowering costs. Gregg, who is the ranking member of the Budget Committee, has taken an active role in trying to ensure that health care reform does not add to the federal deficit.
For Wroe, the key to these negotiations is to take a long-term view. Its a marathon, where every mile feels like a sprint, she said.
Her colleagues say shes up to the task. Liz works like a machine, putting in seven days a week for the past few months to get a deal on health care, another GOP aide said.
While Wroe believes there are a lot of unanswered questions in the reform bill that HELP is working on, she is optimistic that a bipartisan deal can be found. I hope to find more common ground by the end of the markup, she said. Greggs staff is just going to keep looking for it in every way possible.
This week, HELP will address the coverage provisions of the bill in what is expected to be the most contentious stage of
negotiations. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on issues ranging from whether to have a
government-backed insurance plan to whether to have mandates requiring employer health care coverage.