Hilary Hansen

About Hilary Hansen

Hilary M. Hansen is a senior government relations manager in Drinker Biddle & Reath's Washington, D.C., office. She focuses on grassroots and advocacy outreach, with an emphasis on assisting nonprofits and associations. Hilary has worked with nonprofit patient advocacy groups and private and nonprofit health systems to draft and implement legislative strategies, particularly related to appropriations and Medicare-related legislation. She has designed advocacy capacity building strategic plans for organizations that include Capitol Hill days, coalition building and grassroots advocacy. Hilary also advocates on behalf of clients before Congressional offices and Committee staff. Hilary has extensive experience with Capitol Hill Days, serving as the point person on logistics and scheduling. She speaks frequently on the importance of advocacy and how to become a grassroots advocate.

Senate Confirmations of Presidential Nominees

This is the third of a three-part series on federal agency vacancies, nominations, and Senate confirmations.

As President Obama begins a new term in office, so too will a number of Cabinet secretaries and other high ranking Administration officials. While some opt to stay on for a second term, many choose to depart after four years (or perhaps might be asked to consider leaving). After considerable scrutiny and deliberation not only of qualifications but political considerations, the President makes his nominations. Administrations generally seek to appoint people whose nominations they believe will not be controversial and will sail through the confirmation process.  Although sailing through the confirmation process is something that just doesn’t happen that often anymore.  Just because a President feels that certain individuals are best suited for these roles does not guarantee that they will be appointed. Prior to assuming the helm of various departments and agencies, the nominees must be confirmed by the United States Senate. And just how does this process work?

Nominees for cabinet secretaries and other high ranking positions (CIA director, for example) are first vetted by the executive branch. Various issues are considered; conflicts of interest, adjudicated; and potentially embarrassing personal situations are identified. Once the President announces a choice for a position, the nomination is officially transmitted to the Senate where it is referred to the committee of jurisdiction for consideration. Typically, the nominee is required to provide certain background information to the committee and to appear before the committee at a confirmation hearing. The committee also requires the nominee to respond to a questionnaire designed to elicit information apart from that it receives from the executive branch.

The nominee typically arranges “courtesy calls” in advance of the hearing with all committee members. These meetings usually take place in private, outside the glare of the public spotlight and before the nominee formally appears at his or hear confirmation hearing. If a senator has concerns about the nomination he or she will typically raise them in this initial meeting and have the nominee respond informally. If the senate is satisfied with the response, the issue is not likely to be pursued at the hearing.

The confirmation process will typically address issues that have been identified in the course of this preliminary process. If the preliminary process did not identify issues of significance, the confirmation hearing will likely consist of opening statements by the members and nominee, followed by questions which often seem halfhearted and mechanical. While to the outside world, the committee may appear to be letting the nominee off the hook, a perfunctory hearing means that the committee has conducted a thorough inquiry and found nothing significant. On the other hand, if the preliminary inquiry identified issues, the hearing process will expand as necessary to flesh them out to the satisfaction of the members concerned.

Then there are the political considerations.  Sometimes a nomination hearing may prove to be contentious not because of anything that the nominee has done but because of some Senators may want to make a point on underlying issues.  For instance, we have had four acting heads of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) because the underlying issues regarding health care reform sunk nominees regardless of the nominees qualifications.

Following the confirmation hearing, the committee reports the nomination, usually with its recommendation, to the full Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority. If the nominee is approved, he or she is sworn in and immediately begins their duties.  Stay tuned to see who gets appointed to what and how long it takes for confirmation…

Repost – Dewonkify: Sequestration

Word: Sequestration (related words:  sequester; sequestered)

Definition:  A fiscal procedure rarely included in budget-related legislation that calls for automatic spending cuts to all federal discretionary and most mandatory federal spending programs, ranging from Medicare to military spending.

Used in a Sentence: “Sequestration Now in Mainstream Consciousness

History: The Budget Control Act of 2011, enacted August 2011, authorized an increase in the federal debt ceiling in exchange for $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years. This total includes $1.2 trillion in spending cuts identified by the legislation, with an additional $1.2 trillion that was to be determined by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives known as the “Super Committee.” In the event the Super Committee failed to reach agreement, the bill created a trigger mechanism to implement spending cuts through sequestration. In November 2011, the Super Committee announced it could not reach an agreement and, as such, the scheduled sequestration would move forward in January 2013 unless Congress acted to stop it prior to December 31, 2012. To see the budgetary impact of various proposals to replace the sequester, click here for a Congressional Research Service report. Additionally, the Office of Management and Budget released a report in August on the impact of sequestration on federal agencies. For more on sequestration and the fiscal cliff, click here.

Drinker Biddle Announces HIPAA Webinar Series

Drinker Biddle’s Government Relations and Health Care panel will host a three part webinar on the implications of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Omnibus Final Rule. Click here to register for any or all of the upcoming webinars.

Part I: Business Associate Agreements, March 14, 2013, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT / 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m ET

Part II: Research, Marketing & Sales, April 9, 2013, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT / 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET

Part III: Breach Notification, April 16, 2013, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT / 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET

Questions? Please contact Diane Olsen at Diane.Olsen@dbr.com or(312) 569-1902.

Drinker Biddle Client Alert: CMS’s Final Sunshine Rule – Implications for Research

On February 1, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its long-awaited final rule (Final Rule) implementing Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as the “Physician Payment Sunshine Act.”

The Final Rule makes a number of important changes to the proposed rule’s provisions relating to research.  The Drinker Biddle Life Sciences team released a client alert yesterday to highlight these changes and the significant implications of the Final Rule for entities engaged in research.

DBR Client Alert: CMSs Final Sunshine Rule Implications for Research by

Important Upcoming Dates

With the fiscal cliff package passing on New Year’s Day, some key deadlines and dates shifted. Below are important dates for the next three months on Capitol Hill. Check back here as these dates get closer for information on the President’s budget, the contuining resolution (CR) expiration and everything in between!

Important Upcoming Dates

  • Inauguration: January 21
  • State of the Union: January 29 (tentative)
  • January 31: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner plans to leave the Administration by end of the month
  • President’s statutory deadline to submit budget to Congress: February 4
  • U.S. defaults on debt obligations: estimated end of February/early March
  • Sequestration takes effect: March 1
  • Current CR expires: March 27

Fiscal Cliff Bill Passes Congress

On New Year’s Day, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff.” The final vote was 257-157, passing with 172  Democrats and 85 Republicans. (The bill passed the Senate at 2 am on New Year’s Day by a vote of 89-8.)

The final package included tax policies, a two month delay on the sequestration and a one year fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate.

Below are some documents on the package that passed Congress – including the bill, a Congressional Budget Office score, a summary and more.


American Taxpayer Relief Act Copy

One-Pager on America Tax Relief Act

Offsets Summaries – American Tax Relief Act

Extender Summaries – American Tax Relief Act

CBO Detail on SenateHR8-TitleVI

Joint Committee on Taxation – Estimated Revenue Effects of HR 8 the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012

White House Summary on Fiscal Cliff

Policy & Political Roadmap to Lame Duck Session & Beyond

Please join our senior lobbying and public policy professionals for a breakdown of the presidential and congressional elections, the state of the lame duck session and the outlook for the 113th Congress. They will also review the impact of the election on the future of health care reform. To RSVP for the webinar, click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12 – 1:30 p.m. Eastern


Ilisa Halpern Paul Managing Government Relations Director


Anna Schwamlein Howard Medicare Reimbursement and Health Policy Director

Jeremy Scott Government Relations Director

We hope you will join us!

MedPAC Aims to Equalize Reimbursement Rates

In meetings held in both October and November 2012, members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) again suggested that MedPAC aims to equalize the reimbursement rates for certain services provided in outpatient hospital departments with those currently paid for similar services provided in stand-alone doctors’ offices. Last March, MedPAC recommended to Congress that payments for evaluation and management (E&M) services paid to outpatient departments be lowered so they are equal to payments made for similar services provided in doctors’ offices. The recommended cuts could result in an estimated $1 billion payment reduction for hospitals. While Congress has yet to act on MedPAC’s recommendations, this idea has gained traction as lawmakers seek ways to implement Medicare savings.
Click here to read more.

Dewonkify – Super PAC

Capitol Health Record is excited to announce our newest feature – “dewonkify.” Every week, we will take a word commonly used inside the Beltway and strip it down to “plain English.” Have a word you’d like dewonkified? Tweet us @drinkerhealthGR with the hashtag #dewonkify or email us at hilary.hansen@dbr.com.

The Word: Super PAC

The Meaning: A political action committee (PAC) that can raise unlimited money from corporations, unions, and individuals to be used on items such as TV and radio ads and direct mailings. They differ from traditional PACs, which must adhere to numerous federal regulations and have limits on donation amounts. Super PACs cannot make direct contributions to candidates or coordinate messaging or strategy with campaign officials.

Used in a Sentence: “Big Last-Minute Donations Fuel Pro-Romney Super PAC” (New York Times headline)

What It Means: The creation of Super PACs is a game changer for federal campaigns. With no limits on contributions, corporations and unions can dominate TV and radio ads for or against a particular candidate. This is the first presidential election since Super PACs have been permitted to be formed, so the immediate and long-term effects aren’t yet known; however, Restore our Future, a Super PAC supporting GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, raised $20 million in the first 17 days of October.

History: The creation of Super PACs resulted from the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (FEC), which ruled that the FEC could not prohibit the amount corporations and unions can raise for independent federal campaign expenditures. Politico credits Eliza Newlin Carney, a Roll Call reporter, for dubbing the term “Super PAC” on June 26, 2010.

*The Drinker Biddle Lobbying & Advocacy Team wishes to thank our friend and colleague Joe Sudbay for inspiring and encouraging us to create a mechanism through which we can help “dewonkify” Washington lingo.