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Aetna, Cigna Owe a Big Thank You to Henry Waxman

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In irony worthy of an Alanis Morissette song, health insurance companies such as Aetna (AET - Get Report), Cigna (CI - Get Report), Humana (HUM), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), WellPoint (WLP) and others should be sorry to see Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) go. The 20-term Congressman announced several months ago that he would not seek reelection. A liberal Democrat from Los Angeles, Waxman was a foe of the health insurance industry as he supported a single-payer system. But without Waxman, the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, would never have become law.

From ObamaCare, health insurers have done very well thanks to the millions of new customers.

Much of what the Obama administration has accomplished can be directly attributed to Henry Waxman. When his retirement was announced, an article in The New York Times reported that, "One of his most notable accomplishments, the Affordable Care Act, which he was instrumental in writing, is shaping up as the centerpiece of campaigns all over the country...." There was no secret to the success of Waxman as he stated that, "you outlast [the opposition]. You keep working. You keep looking for combinations."

There was much more that made Waxman the most effective member of Congress I have ever witnessed in action.

Much of my career was spent on Capitol Hill working in senior positions (twice I was granted "Top Secret" clearance). From 1995 to 1997, I sat a couple of feet away on the opposite side of the aisle from Waxman on the House Committee on Government and Oversight, which was the main investigative body during the Clinton administration. On several occasions I met with lobbyists from Altria (MO) and Philip Morris (PM)  to quiz them about their dealings with Waxman as he was the most determined opponent of smoking in Congress.

The word from Big Tobacco: Henry Waxman was a formidable foe who was a man of honor.

That made Henry Waxman easy to work with, no matter what the issue. He was honest in his needs and his approach. You cannot ask for anything more on Capitol Hill.  With its low ratings in polls, the United States Congress is nonetheless packed with talent and integrity. Just because you disagree with someone's politics does not make them a bad person. Only a fool lies to someone else on The Hill as it would destroy their reputation and effectiveness forever.

What separated about 99.99% of the members of Congress in history from Henry Waxman was the skill set that he brought to the job. When many are elected to Congress, they think it is going to be easy. They believe that Congress is filled with idiots. Quickly, they realize that is far from true.

They then realize that being an effective legislator requires the ability to spot an issue, the intelligence to frame it so that it attracts supporters on and off The Hill, and then the perseverance to continue pushing it until it passes, seizing on every opportunity in the process of a bill becoming law. Very, very few come even close to having this legislative skill set.

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