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K Street Files: Doctors Arrive to Argue for Liability Reform

If any Capitol Hill denizens have a medical emergency Tuesday, they won’t have trouble finding a doctor in the House — or Senate. That’s because nearly 500 emergency physicians will be on the Hill lobbying for a medical liability reform bill.

“We’re concerned about medical malpractice as it impacts the availability of emergency care,” said David Ross, an emergency physician with the Penrose-St. Francis health system in Colorado Springs, Colo. “The current malpractice law in most states is driving defensive medicine and limiting the number of specialists in some cases.”

Ross and his colleagues with the American College of Emergency Physicians today have scheduled more than 300 meetings with Members and staff.

In addition to advocating for the liability bill — known as the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare Act of 2011 — the docs will raise concerns they have with the implementation of last year’s health care law.

James Williams, another doctor in town to lobby for the group and a past president of the Texas chapter of emergency physicians, said his colleagues plan to meet with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Texas, he added, already has tort reform for medical cases. “Rep. Smith has done a great job of putting that forward,” Williams said of the federal medical liability bill. “He understands the success in Texas is something that could be realized nationally.”

The ER doctors also want to make the case that emergency medicine should not face funding cuts.

“We’re not the over expensive monster that some people in policymaking think that it is,” Ross said. “We’re much more cost-effective and efficient than the average person thinks.”

Dialing Up New Business

The proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile has been fueling lots of K Street work. The latest recipient of new business is the Gibson Group, a new lobby shop created by former House Judiciary Committee chief minority counsel Joseph Gibson.

AT&T Services Inc. has tapped Gibson to work on merger issues, according to a recently filed lobbying form. Gibson declined to comment beyond the public filing.

The telecom merger isn’t the only issue triggering new work. Ice Miller Strategies’ D.C. office has signed on to represent pharmaceutical giant Novartis Corp. on appropriations matters as well as vaccine and health care issues, according to a filing with Congress. The firm’s Graham Hill, Clayton Heil, Andy Mueller and Nicole Elam are working for the client.

The same team has registered to represent the Tarrant Regional Water District in Fort Worth, Texas, on “authorization and appropriations for transportation and Army Corps of Engineers projects” in the county, a lobbying disclosure said.

K Street Moves

Bob Schellhas, who is considered an insider in the network of Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), has left his job at Citigroup Inc. for a gig with the tax-focused lobbying firm Washington Council Ernst & Young.

Schellhas’ résumé includes a stint as deputy chief of staff to Boehner. He was also a senior legislative assistant to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who chairs the House Ways and Means panel. And he was chief of staff and trade adviser to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) when Portman served in the House.

The Citi job wasn’t Schellhas’ first on K Street. He was a vice president of federal relations for the American Council of Life Insurers.

“Bob brings a wealth of political, Congressional and corporate experience to the group,” Washington Council’s Gary Gasper said.

The firm’s Nick Giordano added: “His policy strengths and political savvy will be terrific assets for our clients.”

• The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity has tapped Evan Tracey, founder and president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, as the coalition’s senior vice president of communications.

“Evan Tracey understands how to communicate the importance of electricity from coal and the value of investments in clean coal technology,” said Steve Miller, ACCCE’s president and CEO, in a press statement.

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