As Goes Omaha, So Goes the White House?

As Goes Omaha, So Goes the White House?

By Ryan Long, BGR Group Principal

Former Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) once proposed moving the American capital to Nebraska. While that is not likely to happen anytime soon, Omaha may be the most consequential city in the 2024 election. Most people would shrug that off because it is not in one of the so-called swing states. However, the voters of Omaha may very well determine the next President.

A candidate must secure 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency. Using the Cook Political Report Presidential Ratings, President Biden currently projects to have 226 electoral votes from states ranked as likely or safe Democrat. Former President Trump currently has 219 electoral votes that are currently ranked safe or likely Republican.  Add in North Carolina that is currently rated as lean Republican and the number for President Trump jumps up to 235.

That leaves six states currently rated as toss up, totaling 79 electoral votes. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average Trump has a lead of 4.6% or higher in three of them; Georgia with a total of 16 electoral votes, Arizona with 11 and Nevada with 6. If all of those are put in the Trump column, he is now up to 268 electoral votes. Close but still shy of the needed 270.

Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are considered the Democrats’ historical blue wall. Despite quite a few close races before 2016, Wisconsin hadn’t voted for a Republican since 1984 while Michigan and Pennsylvania hadn’t voted for a Republican nominee since 1988. Trump beat Hilary Clinton in 2016 in all three states with margins under one percent. In 2020 those states swung back to the Democrats with Biden winning Michigan by less than three percent, Pennsylvania by less than two percent and Wisconsin by less than one percent.

On the Real Clear Politics average Trump is currently ahead in all three states but with thin margins of two percent or less in all three. A victory in any of three likely leads to a second Trump Administration.  For the sake of argument only let’s say the historical blue wall holds and votes with President Biden.  That would net him 270 electoral votes and the presidency…maybe.

Maine and Nebraska award two electoral votes to the state-wide winner and one electoral vote for the winner of each congressional seat in the state.  Cook Political Report currently rates Maine’s Second Congressional District as likely Republican.  Given that Trump won the district in 2020 by almost 7.5%, he is the prohibitive favorite to win that district again in 2024.

This is where Omaha comes in. Popular former Air Force General, four term Republican Congressman Don Bacon won renomination easily on Tuesday but the district has voted for the Democrat nominee two times in the last four presidential elections. President Obama carried the district in 2008 but it reverted back to the GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. In 2016 the district went for Trump but it switched to Biden in 2020. For this exercise let’s say Nebraska reverts back to Trump in 2024. Instead of a 270 to 268 Biden electoral college victory, there would be a 269-269 tie. In the event of a tie, the House of Representatives would determine the next President based on a vote of state congressional delegations. Currently, the GOP controls 27 delegations and the Democrats control 22 with Minnesota being tied. Any vote would be taken in the new Congress, which will be sworn in in January of 2025.

The nation’s eyes turn to Omaha every June for the College Baseball World Series. Come November, all eyes could be on Omaha again if the presidential vote falls a certain way

Leading Government and Public Affairs Firms Join Together to Establish Advocus Partners

Bipartisan Team with a National Footprint Provides Comprehensive Advocacy Offering

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 21, 2024) – Eight of the nation’s top government and public affairs companies have joined together to form Advocus Partners, a comprehensive advocacy company with a nationwide footprint. Advocus provides a full suite of advocacy disciplines from lobbying and strategic communications to polling and grassroots mobilization. Advocus is well-positioned to develop and execute large-scale public policy initiatives and advocacy campaigns at the federal, state, local, and international levels.

Advocus member companies include BGR Group, California-based Capitol Advocacy, Florida-based Capital City Consulting, The Herald Group, Ohio-based Hicks Partners, Hilltop Public Solutions, Stateside Associates, and The Tarrance Group. They operate independently and collaborate to serve clients.

Advocus was formed to bring together top lobbying and public affairs firms from across the country to provide comprehensive and customized solutions to clients’ advocacy needs. Organized as a holding company, Advocus Partners is bipartisan and geographically diverse and offers every tool of government advocacy.

“Advocus Partners represents the best of the best in consulting and advocacy from across the country,” Capitol Advocacy Managing Partner John Latimer said. “With 19 offices covering the most important markets in the country,  the companies of Advocus are uniquely positioned to offer integrated and comprehensive advocacy solutions for our clients. Our collective history of successful advocacy efforts and campaign operations give clients the confidence that we can address any challenge they face.”

“Our firm is proud to be part of Advocus Partners,” BGR Group Chairman and CEO Bob Wood said. “Advocus’ bipartisan team excels at providing public affairs support, policy analysis, and strategies designed to achieve results. We’ve already seen how our Advocus team members and clients have benefited from this expanded collaboration and offering.”

“Advocus Partners is designed to provide clients with every component of advocacy campaigns regardless of scale or location,” said Craig Pattee, Managing Director of Advocus Partners. “We have the team, the tools, and the experience to execute both broad and targeted advocacy. Our partners are already working together to serve clients’ needs and achieve success.”

Advocus offerings include Corporate Advisory Services, Federal Government Services, State & Local Government Services, Strategic Communications, Coalition Development, Grasstops & Grassroots Mobilization, Polling & Research, Government Markets & Procurement, International Relations, Crisis & Litigation Support, Public Affairs Campaigns, and Digital Advocacy & Paid Media.

For more information on Advocus please visit advocuspartners.com.

CONTACT: Doug McGinn, The Herald Group (dmcginn@theheraldgroup.com)

BGR Group Welcomes Raghav Aggarwal to Bipartisan Health and Life Sciences Practice

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 1, 2023) – BGR Group, Washington, D.C.’s premiere lobbying and public affairs firm, has welcomed Raghav Aggarwal as a Vice President with its bipartisan Health and Life Sciences Practice. Raghav is a leader in federal health care payment policy, having held a variety of senior roles within the Executive Branch and on Capitol Hill. He possesses deep knowledge and expertise in drug pricing and Medicare payment policy and the federal regulatory and legislative processes.

“Raghav is an outstanding addition to the bipartisan BGR team,” Health and Life Sciences Practice Group Co Head Remy Brim Mason, PhD, said. “He has been involved in every major health care policy debate at CMS and on Capitol Hill over the last several years and his policy expertise is second to none. Raghav’s experience and insider knowledge of federal health care policymaking will be a tremendous asset to BGR and our clients.”

Before joining BGR, Raghav most recently served as Senior Advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) leadership and helped oversee a vast array of policy and operational work for the Agency related to a more than $400 billion per year health care portfolio, including the implementation of the drug pricing and payment reform provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Raghav also served on detail as Senior Health Policy Advisor with the Majority Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, where he managed legislation and advised the Chairman on the prescription drug pricing, Medicare Part D, and Medicare Advantage policy portfolios, among other health care issues. During his time with the Senate Finance Committee, Raghav most notably led the development of the drug pricing and payment reform policies included in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and helped to successfully negotiate passage of the landmark legislation.

Raghav began his federal career during the Obama administration. Prior to and after his time with the Senate, Raghav served as a lead advisor and technical authority on the Medicare program for senior officials across the Executive Branch under three different administrations. During his time with CMS, he executed multiple initiatives including cross-cutting projects and completed special assignments for senior political and career leadership on a broad range of significant management, operational, and policy issues. He also contributed to the development of legislative, regulatory, and litigation strategies, participating in senior-level discussions and planning sessions, collaborated with policy staff to execute and brief senior leadership on complex program-related studies and data analyses to provide critical quantitative and qualitative context for policy decisions, and spearheaded the development, clearance, and implementation of policy guidance and regulations related to the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, including the annual rate notices.

During his CMS tenure, Raghav oversaw the formulation, rollout, and implementation of significant Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D policy changes related to the treatment of manufacturer rebates, payment for insulins, benefit design and reporting requirements, value-based insurance design, risk adjustment, applications of Medicare Advantage encounter data, end-stage renal disease enrollment and payment, Medical Loss Ratio, coverage and payment of COVID-19 vaccines and testing, plan formulary design, Parts C and D coverage and contract requirements, and Parts C and D Star Ratings.

Raghav has received numerous honors and awards for his meaningful contributions to federal health care policy, including the HHS Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Management, one of the highest honors granted by the Department and conferred by the Secretary.

He previously interned for the late U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and served as a Fellow in the Office of the former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.

Raghav has a Master of Public Administration and Bachelors of Sciences in Economics, Mathematics, and Public Policy from the University of Southern California.

BGR Elects Four New Firm Principals

January 25, 2022 – BGR Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier bipartisan lobbying and public relations firm, today announced that Dan Farmer (Health and Life Sciences), Pete Landrum (Financial Services), Joe Lai (Commerce), and Jerry Strickland (State Advocacy and Appropriations) have been elected by their colleagues to be principals in the firm.

“BGR continues to expand and offer our clients top notch analysis and guidance on key policy challenges,” said Erskine Wells, President of BGR Group. “Dan, Pete, Joe and Jerry have been outstanding colleagues and contributors to BGR’s success. Their election as principals reflects their hard work and high level of performance in service of BGR’s clients.”

 

 

Dan Farmer Named Co-Lead of BGR’s Access & Reimbursement Working Group

Washington, D.C. (October 22, 2021) – BGR Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier bipartisan lobbying and public relations firm, has named Health and Life Sciences Practice Vice President Dan Farmer Co-Lead of the Practice’s Access & Reimbursement Working Group. As a veteran of payment policy work in both the public and private sectors, Farmer helps clients better understand the complex rules and administrative actions pertaining to access and reimbursement for medical products and services. He also helps support client relationships with key health care officials in the administration and on Capitol Hill.

“Dan continues to go above and beyond for our clients on a daily basis,” Health and Life Science Practice Co-Head Dr. Remy L. Brim, Ph.D., said. “His expertise and attention to detail make him a standout at BGR and in the health care space. We are proud to have him on the team and as co-lead of this critical working group.”

BGR’s Access & Reimbursement Working Group, which Farmer co-leads with BGR Principal Robb Walton, works with provider groups and medical product manufacturers, as well as other leading companies and trade associations throughout our nation’s health care delivery system. The Access & Reimbursement team works on all policy matters pertaining to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) as well as the state and federal commercial insurance marketplace. Additionally, this team works directly with CMS to provide client insights on how to ensure patient access to important treatments and services.

Prior to joining BGR, Farmer coordinated federal affairs at the Cleveland Clinic. He previously served in several roles at the CMS, including a stint in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and in the Center for Medicare, where he focused on Medicare payment policy. He was also a Democratic staffer for a key House Energy and Commerce Committee member during the drafting and passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Top House Democratic Aide Joel Bailey Joins BGR as VP

Bailey Served as Chief of Staff to Top Ways & Means Committee Member

Washington, D.C., (September 8, 2021) – BGR Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier bipartisan lobbying and public relations firm, today announced that Joel Bailey, a longtime House Democratic aide and experienced lobbyist is joining the firm as a Vice President in the Health and Life Sciences Practice. He will advise BGR health care clients across sectors on strategies and tactics to advance their objectives in Washington.

“Joel has extensive Capitol Hill and lobbying experience that will help clients across the firm and particularly in the Health and Life Sciences Practice,” BGR Group Chairman and CEO Bob Wood said. “We are thrilled to have him join our bipartisan team.”

“BGR has built a solid reputation as a bipartisan policy advocacy firm,” Bailey said. “I’m very excited to join this outstanding group of health care and legislative experts.”

“We are proud to welcome Joel to the BGR Health team,” Practice Head Dr. Remy Brim, said. “His health care policy expertise, experience working with key House committees, and deep relationships with members of Congress and their senior staff will be a tremendous asset to BGR’s clients as we navigate the tremulous legislative waters of today and prepare for whats to come.”

Joel has more than 15 years of experience in Washington, D.C., with more than a decade on Capitol Hill. He has extensive experience working with, and for, public and private entities helping them navigate Congress and the Executive Branch to achieve their goals.

Joel most recently served as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), a Member of the House Ways and Means Committee. In that role he ran the Congressman’s official and political activities, served as his primary advisor, and managed the Member’s whip operation as a Chief Deputy Whip.

Prior to his time with Congressman Panetta, Joel served as a Director for Federal Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, where he represented the restaurant industry on Capitol Hill.

Joel also served as a health policy advisor to several House Energy and Commerce Committee members, including Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT), where he also served as his Legislative Director, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), and then Blue Dog Co-Chair Congressman Baron Hill (D-IN), where he advised the Congressman through the consideration and passage of the Affordable Care Act.

 

BGR Views: Bipartisan Look at Vaccine, Biden Nominees

In the latest BGR Views, BGR PR Vice President Jo Maney interviews BGR Health and Life Sciences Practice Co-Head Remy Brim, Ph.D. (D) and BGR Health and Life Sciences Practice Vice President Matt Hoffman (R) on the vaccine rollout and the confirmation path for Biden healthcare nominees.

Presidential Health Care Outlook from Both Sides of BGR

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BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying and communications firm, offers presidential campaign analyses from both sides. Remy L. Brim, Ph.D., one of BGR’s leading Democratic lobbyists, offers her analysis of Joe Biden’s health care policies and Brent Del Monte, one of BGR’s top Republicans, explains Donald Trump’s stands.

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Biden Seeks to Expand Health Coverage

By Remy L. Brim, Ph.D.

Co-Head, BGR Health and Life Sciences Practice

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on employment and the health of many in the population would give a Biden Administration an easy hook with the public to bring the Democratic Party’s long-standing priority of expanding health coverage into the limelight. However, the Democratic Party is not completely aligned about how that expansion should take place. Progressive voices in the party want to see a “Medicare for All” model replace the current public-private health insurance mix while others in the party favor an incremental approach that would increase coverage but also allow individuals with private individual or employer-based insurance, especially union workers, to keep their products.

The party’s platform aims to cover more Americans through lowering the Medicare eligibility age, rolling back access to “junk plans,” expanding subsidies for plans sold on the individual market, providing coverage in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, and offering a “public option” on the exchange to compete against private plans, which would particularly help in rural areas that lack competition. To accomplish any of these efforts, Biden would have to work hard within to get buy-in from both wings of the party.

Drug pricing would also be an issue in a Biden administration. The party platform would give the Medicare program authority to negotiate with drug manufacturers on the prices of most prescription drugs and allow private insurers to use these prices as a reference. House Democrats have already passed H.R. 3, which includes Medicare negotiation and the so-called International Price Index that would peg the price of certain drugs in the U.S. to the price paid in other countries. We know from H.R. 3 that negotiation alone cannot achieve government savings and must be tied to limits on coverage (a non-starter for patients) or an upper limit or standard to draw companies to the table. So, while the platform doesn’t mention IPI, expect the negotiation conversation to be linked to such a limit. In addition, both Democrats and Republicans support lowering out of pocket expenses in Part D and limiting price increases.

What a Biden Administration can accomplish, and how, will greatly depend on the makeup of Congress. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, expect a Biden Administration to use executive actions and rulemaking powers to roll back restrictive policies in the Medicaid program, reinstate anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community, restrict short-term insurance plans and other coverage options that do not meet the ACA’s typical coverage standards, and use demonstration authority to expand coverage. Even if Democrats win control of Congress and the White House, the party will have to heal its own fissures and reach across the aisle to include Republicans to help insulate themselves from a perception that the party is pursuing a partisan health care agenda – a perception that cost the party after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Trump to Push Private-Sector Health Solutions

By Brent Del Monte

Co-Head, BGR Health and Life Sciences Practice

A second term for President Trump would likely extend the health-related policies of his first term, starting with his desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The president sees this action as essential to giving Americans more and better choice with their health care options.

A second Trump administration would also work to make health care choices more consumer-driven and provide states with additional flexibility to devise cost-saving options that would insure and protect patients.

The president’s focus would remain on the consumer, which has been his stated priority since the beginning of his term. He wants consumers to have more choices. He also wants to get rid of federal mandates that increase the cost of health insurance. That would mean more private-sector options for health care coverage such as expanded use of health savings accounts and other new, health-reimbursement arrangements.

President Trump would also give the states more power to manage their roles as they see fit and allow work requirements for Medicaid recipients when states request that authority. President Trump, in general, would prefer to give states more control over Medicaid, which offers health coverage to the poor and disabled.

The president has said he would not cut Medicare, which provides medical coverage to senior citizens. He has said he wants Medicare to “pay for value.” This means he would prefer that Medicare pay for performance of providers, so that should be expected if there is a second Trump term.

Americans should also expect a second Trump administration to proceed with the implementation of the executive orders that the president recently signed pertaining to the pharmaceutical industry in a second term. Indeed, the president has made reducing drug prices a top priority.

The president also is an advocate of reducing the number of activities that the federal government mandates. His overall reduction of regulations is an example of this leaning. In health care, he specifically wants to cut the number of mandates from Washington that increase the cost of health insurance.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]

BGR Group Promotes Dan Farmer to VP for Policy Analysis and Strategy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 8, 2020 – BGR Group, one of Washington’s premier bipartisan lobbying and public relations firms, today promoted Dan Farmer, a former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) official and Democratic congressional aide, to Vice President for Policy Analysis and Strategy within the Health and Life Sciences Practice.

Prior to joining BGR earlier this year, Farmer coordinated federal affairs at the Cleveland Clinic. He previously served in several roles at the CMS, including a stint in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and in the Center for Medicare, where he focused on Medicare payment policy. He was also a Democratic staffer for a key House Energy and Commerce Committee member during the drafting and passage of the Affordable Care Act.

“Dan has been a tremendous asset to BGR and its clients since he joined us in January,” said Remy Brim, Co-Head of BGR’s Health and Life Sciences Practice. “Dan’s extensive experience navigating the regulatory environment and political processes in Washington has been vital to providing steady guidance and timely analysis during this exceptionally volatile time.”

Farmer’s work focuses on helping clients better understand the complex rules and administrative actions pertaining to access and reimbursement for medical products and services and supporting their relationships with CMS and beyond.

 

 

Health Care Outlook from Both Sides of BGR

BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying and communications firm, discusses the future of health policy from both sides. Remy L. Brim Ph.D., a former Democratic Senate aide and co-head of BGR’s health and life sciences practice, explains the outlook if Joe Biden wins the White House. Brent Del Monte, a former Republican congressional staffer and co-head of BGR’s health and life sciences practice, lays out health policy if President Trump is reelected.

BGR Views: Health Care Policy Under the Next White House from BGR Group on Vimeo.