Today, Republican Scott Walker was sworn in as the newly-elected governor of the state of Wisconsin. One of the major themes of Walker’s campaign was opposition to federal health care reform efforts. Back in March, Walker announced his support for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s intention to sue the federal government to win the right for Wisconsin to opt-out of the recently passed health care law. It is widely expected that, now that Walker is governor, Wisconsin will join the multi-state lawsuit taking aim at the federal health care law.
Now, in a signal that Walker is serious about his intention to do the insurance companies’ bidding and deny Wisconsinites the coverage and protections in the new law, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal is reporting that Walker has hired Eric Schutt, the vice president of state government affairs for insurer parent company UnitedHealth Group, as his new deputy chief of staff:
Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker announced that Eric Schutt, vice president of state government affairs for UnitedHealth Group Inc., will serve as his deputy chief of staff.
Schutt, who worked in the Wisconsin state Legislature before joining Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth, was among four senior staff appointments Walker announced Wednesday.
While Schutt has worked for multiple Republican legislators and campaigns, his most recent job was to lobby lawmakers on behalf of UnitedHealth Group as a registered lobbyist.
UnitedHealth is one of the largest health insurance companies in the country, with its various insurers covering almost 70 million Americans. The company spent millions of dollars lobbying legislators against federal health care reform efforts, and was notorious for funding the Lewin Group, a consulting firm which produced slanted data to make the case against a public health insurance option.
Now that Walker has selected to Schutt to be his deputy chief of staff, the company’s influence in the state will be significantly magnified, which may have major ramifications as the state possibly moves to obstruct the new health care law.