At a time when her lawmaking allies reign supreme in Washington, Republican healthcare superlobbyist Deborah Steelman is getting out of the business of running her own firm and joining corporate America.
Eli Lilly and Co., the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company, last week announced that it had hired Steelman as its vice president of corporate affairs. In her new role, Steelman will head the firm's governmental and public relations functions. She will join a corporate team that was home until recently to Mitchell Daniels, who left Lilly to be President Bush's budget chief.
In joining Lilly, Steelman leaves behind an impressive portfolio and stable of lobbyists at her Washington firm, Steelman Health Strategies. Among her clients were 642-bed Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and Beverly Enterprises.
On her team were such names as Michael Bromberg, the former head of the Federation of American Hospitals, and Shawn Coughlin, a former top healthcare aide to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William Thomas (R-Calif.) and Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), now chairwoman of the committee's health subcommittee.
"I am delighted to have someone of Deborah Steelman's caliber join our organization. She is one of our nation's most respected and knowledgeable experts on healthcare policy," Sidney Taurel, Lilly's chairman, president and CEO, said in a written statement.
Eating their own. Before President Bush could make his long-expected nomination of Thomas Scully, the top executive at the Federation of American Hospitals, as HCFA administrator, conservatives already have turned on Scully for disloyalty.
Last week, the online site of the conservatives' weekly bible, the National Review, attacked Scully for making a $1,000 contribution to the presidential campaign of former Vice President Al Gore and other past contributions to Democrats. The magazine argued that the contributions should make the GOP think twice before supporting Scully to be Bush's chief salesman on Medicare reform and prescription drug coverage.
"Many conservatives have worried that Scully ... isn't the best person to manage these issues for the president," the magazine opined.
This, despite Scully's service in the administration of Bush's father, a seat on the presidential library board of the former President Bush, and otherwise unwavering rhetorical support for Republican politics. In addition, industry sources estimate that Scully was responsible for giving or raising some $400,000 for Republican political campaigns in the most recent election cycle.
Now one of the faithful. David D'Eramo, the head of the largest Catholic hospital in New England, hardly needed much convincing when he joined a select gathering at the White House to hear President Bush sing the praises of his new national office of faith-based initiatives.
Talk about keeping the faith: D'Eramo, president and CEO of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Conn., was quickly transformed into the plan's newest acolyte after the 40-minute meeting with the president in late January.
"It's the kind of people he has surrounded himself with," D'Eramo says, "that made a true believer out of me."
D'Eramo, 58, was among a group of executives from 35 religious organizations invited to hear the president's pitch for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which could help funnel billions of dollars in tax dollars to religious groups across the country.
"I guess, in a word, I'm excited by it," says D'Eramo, who, like the 105-year-old institution he has led for 13 years, is active in a wide range of community projects in the Hartford area. "I think what he's doing has great value and great potential. It's a ray of hope that people in this broader community of ours can continue to have their needs appropriately addressed."
D'Eramo's long involvement in public-private partnerships-he's the incoming chairman of the Hartford Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, for instance-apparently attracted the White House's attention, leading to his audience with the president.
Four years ago, D'Eramo and Saint Francis helped oversee the creation of the $6.6 million Burgdorf/Fleet Health Center in Hartford, a public-private partnership that included money from the Fleet Bank and low-interest loans from the state and federal governments. Housed in a building owned by the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation-Saint Francis merged with the Jewish hospital in 1995-the clinic treats about 55,000 patients per year, D'Eramo says.
Saint Francis, a 617-bed facility that receives government help only through Medicare and Medicaid, could reap a potential windfall of additional financial government support for many of the secular, community-based services it provides.