Insurers pick Obamacare foe as industry spokesman

The trade group representing the nation’s health insurers have chosen Brendan Buck, who was House Speaker John Boehner’s point man on opposition to the Affordable Care Act, as its new spokesman.

“Brendan’s experience and skill set will allow him to hit the ground running on day one,” America’s Health Insurance Plans President Karen Ignagni said in a statement. “He’s an effective communicator who knows how to tackle complex policy issues and skillfully navigate an ever-changing health care and media environment. We are delighted to welcome him to our team.”

When he worked for Boehner, Buck’s job was to react to all White House action, especially its promotion of the Affordable Care Act.

Just last month, when President Obama released ACA enrollment numbers, Buck blasted the White House saying, “The White House continues to obscure the full impact of Obamacare. Beyond refusing to disclose the number of people who’ve actually enrolled by paying premiums, the president ignores the havoc that this law has wreaked on private plans that people already had and liked.”

At AHIP, he’ll be representing insurers, including Aetna, whose public stance largely has ranged from neutrality to mild support of the new health law.

Buck took a leave of absence in 2012 to serve as press secretary to the vice-presidential campaign of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. He also has served as a spokesman for the Republican Study Committee, a group of the most conservative House Republicans, and as a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the AHIP team, and couldn’t be more excited for the challenge,” Buck said. “This is an industry going through an unprecedented transition, and health plans need as strong a voice as ever as they seek to provide Americans affordable, quality private coverage.”

In a statement, Boehner said Buck was “absolutely critical” to the GOP’s campaign to retake House control in 2010.

“Then, he took a leading role in our communications shop, holding the White House accountable in the middle of some of the biggest fights this town has seen in quite a while. I’ve appreciated his advice, his energetic advocacy, and his wit every step of the way,” Boehner said. “Boehnerland will miss him.”

Buck replaces Robert Zirkelbach, who left AHIP to become the chief spokesman for the  Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

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