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1 fun thing: Lunch with Joel White

Joel White sits at a restaurant eating lunch

Photo: Peter Sullivan/Axios

We're back with another lunch Q&A, this time with Joel White, president of Horizon Government Affairs and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage.

  • He is also a former Republican staff director of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.
  • He sat down with Axios for lunch at P.J. Clarke's to go over some of his stories and Hill favorites.

What's your go-to lunch spot on Capitol Hill?

Charlie Palmer's. My office is on the Senate side, so it's just really convenient. I spend more time on the House side. Over there it's Dunkin'.

What's the best celebrity sighting you saw on Capitol Hill?

My favorite was Jane Goodall. [This was at an E&C hearing where she testified on a bill to create a sanctuary for chimps after they were used in NIH research.]

As I passed each member's staffer who's sitting down, they reach into their jackets and pulled out a banana. And they were piling bananas on my briefing books so I got to where my boss [then-Rep. Jim Greenwood] was and I had like 14 bananas piled on my briefing books....

So I go back the other way and I go into the little anteroom where the members go and I'm like dumping the bananas on the couch, and just then Richard Burr walks around the corner, who was a member of the Commerce Committee at the time, and he just looks at me and is like, 'What is wrong with you?' I'm like, 'I thought members would be hungry. I brought snacks.'"

What is an issue in health care you think is undercovered or undernoticed?

I think the major focus right now is on pharma ... [but] really the cost drivers are on the service side, and how that contributes to premiums, out of pocket growth, our fiscal mess.

Hospitals, doctors, post acute care, that's 90% of the spend is there. ... We're focusing on 10%, and it's like we can't touch this other stuff because of politics.

What is the latest you ever stayed at the office?

There were a couple all-nighters when we passed Part D. [He was working for Ways and Means.] I think the vote wrapped up at 5 in the morning. Then we went back to the office and we were wrapping up some summaries and press statements and stuff like that.

Favorite bar on Capitol Hill and what do you order?

I like Bullfeathers. Usually a beer.

Cups or Longworth Dunkin'?

Oh, Longworth Dunkin'. I'm from New England, man. Dunkin' Donuts.

What's a good TV show you watched lately?

I really like "Invasion" on Apple TV.

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