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July 30, 2014

Boehner Aide Brendan Buck Will Be Top Spokesman for Health Insurance Industry (Updated)

Boehner 2 021413 445x255 Boehner Aide Brendan Buck Will Be Top Spokesman for Health Insurance Industry (Updated)

Buck, left, walks with Boehner and fellow Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:31 p.m. | Brendan Buck, a longtime spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, is leaving Capitol Hill to become the chief spokesman for the health insurance industry.

Buck will become the vice president of communications at America’s Health Insurance Plans, per a statement from AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni. AHIP is the main lobby for the health insurance industry.

Buck spent three years with the Ohio Republican — leaving for a stint as press secretary for Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., during his run for vice president. He’s also been a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.

AHIP’s positions don’t always match up with the GOP’s. The insurance industry group backed universal coverage during the 2009 health care debate, backed up by a stiff individual mandate to buy insurance. But the group spent millions opposing Democratic efforts — and especially the public insurance option before it was scuttled. It continues to fight various provisions in the law, including a tax on insurance premiums and a cut in subsidies for private Medicare Advantage plans.

It has opposed efforts — including by Boehner’s GOP, to delay or repeal the individual mandate.

Buck, in a statement Monday, focused on the new job.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the AHIP team, and couldn’t be more excited for the challenge. 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,” he said in a statement.

Boehner also issued a statement:

“More than four years ago, hardly anyone believed we could win back the House.  Listening to the American people and earning back their trust led to a new kind of governing agenda: our ‘Pledge to America.’  Brendan was an absolutely crucial part of that process. 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. Boehnerland will miss him.”

Buck has been one of the most prolific — and most-followed — congressional staffers on Twitter, with more than 11,000 followers. He dealt extensively with the White House press corps in particular, and got into occasional Twitter fights with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Buck also sent out a farewell email Monday:

Folks – I’ve had a chance to see and do some incredible things over the last eight and a half years. And it has been the pleasure of a lifetime – most of all because of the people I’ve encountered along the way. I can tell you there is no better man for the challenges we face right now than John Boehner, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities he’s provided me. And there is no better team in politics than the incredible people who make up Boehnerland. I will miss them all. Thanks also to all the great leaders I’ve had a chance to work for in various capacities over the years – Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Greg Walden, and of course Tom Price who gave me my start in Washington. And you reporters are okay, too.

But all great things, as they say, must come to an end, and I couldn’t be more excited for my next challenge. Today is my last day in the Capitol, and starting Wednesday I will be the Vice President of Communications and spokesman at America’s Health Insurance Plans. It’s amazing opportunity to dig into a complex issue set and navigate a rapidly changing industry. And they have some great people over there. It’ll be fun.

So, to all my colleagues, a most sincere thank you.

To all you reporters, you haven’t gotten rid me yet – please get used to reaching out for all matters health care.

And to all you others, see you around.

- Brendan

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