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President Bush has named his top health care adviser, Doug Badger, to complete the team of deputies serving under his new legislative affairs director, Candi Wolff.

A one-time chief of staff to former Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.), Badger will be the lobbying operation’s “inside” deputy, playing traffic cop in the policy give-and-take between the White House and Capitol Hill.

Badger will replace Eric Pelletier, who left the legislative affairs shop for a job with General Electric Corp.

Badger joins fellow deputies Matthew Kirk, a fellow Nickles alum who serves as the White House’s top Senate lobbyist, and top House liaison Brian Conklin, who was appointed last week.

As a special assistant to the president for economic policy, Badger was instrumental in advancing the administration’s case for reforming Medicare in 2002.

His role in that debate proved controversial. Along with Thomas Scully, the then-administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Badger was accused by some Democrats of hiding information about the true cost of the reforms to ease passage in Congress.

Badger graduated from the University of Delaware and has a master’s of divinity from the Westminster Theological Seminary.

In the meantime, Ginger Loper, previously special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, announced that she is joining the lobbying firm Timmons and Co. as a vice president.

Loper had been a liaison to the Senate, handling various issues including health care, taxes, Social Security and education. She also managed the confirmation process for many presidential nominations.

Before joining the White House, Loper served as a legislative assistant to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), specializing in Finance Committee issues.

She is married to Brett Loper, the deputy chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Louis Jacobson contributed to this report.

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