Erica HiarThe California Healthcare Institute, which represents more than 275 biotechnology, drug, device and hospital companies with operations in the Golden State, has named Erica Hiar as PR and communications director at its Washington office.

Prior to CHI, Hiar was at Merritt Group, serving as lead on the Maximus and U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention accounts. Earlier she did stints at Environics Communications and Howard Consulting Group.

LaJolla-headquartered CHI counts Siemens, Amgen, biogen idec, Cedars-Sinai, Allergan, McKesson, and Pfizer among its members.

Major priorities of CHI this year include implementation of the Food & Drug Administration Safety and Implementation Act that passed Congress last year and coverage and payment issues related to the Affordable Care Act.

David Gollaher heads the group.