Tag Archives: Kathleen Sebelius

Sebelius Shakesdown Industry, Actions Questioned as Illegal

The Washington Post recently reported that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kalthleen Sebelius has been approaching “health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law, two people familiar with the outreach said.”

This move prompted Members of Congress to question whether the Secretary had violated the law.  Senator Orrin Hatch commented, stating, “To solicit funds from health-care executives to help pay for the implementation of the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is absurd. I will be seeking more information from the Administration about these actions to help better understand whether there are conflicts of interest and if it violated federal law.”

Jason Young, an HHS spokesperson, defended the Secretary’s actions  arguing that ObamaCare encourages the Secretary to work with outside groups to implement the law.  The Secretary’s actions, however, would appear to violated the Anti-Deficiency Act as well as Department of Justice regulations. DOJ’s regulations, which apply to all Federal officials, prohibit Federal officials from fundraising in their professional capacity but they do allows a Cabinet member to solicit donations as a private citizen provided they do not “solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department, and [the official does] not use [their] official title.”

By pointing to the law, HHS spokesman Jason Young has admitted that Sebelius was acting in an official capacity which suggests that Sebelius is violating the law.  The Washington Post reported:

“Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, which researches government ethics issues, said she was troubled by Sebelius’s activities because the secretary seemed to be ‘using the power of government to compel giving or insinuate that giving is going to be looked at favorably by the government.'”

Furthermore, the Washington Post reported that “industry official who had knowledge of the calls but did not participate directly in them said there was a clear insinuation by the administration that the insurers should give financially to the nonprofits.” In other words, Secretary Sebelius is working like the Corleone family from the GodFather, “it’s a mighty nice insurance company you have there, shame if anything would happen to it.”

Read more here and here.

UPDATE:  Michael Cannon from the CATO Institute has additionally commentary on this issue that can be found here.

 Be sure to follow AHEC on Twitter @TheAHEC and at Facebook.com/TheAHEC.

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Sebelius Throws DOJ Under the Bus

Okay – DOJ has repeatedly argued that the individual mandate is a tax to fend off legal challenges about the constitutionality of the mandate and ObamaCare as a whole. This gives them the “hook” to claim the law is constitutional because it is based on Congress’ taxing powers. The law itself, however, states it is not a tax.

At any rate, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threw DOJ under the bus in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee the other day when she said that the mandate was “not a tax per se.”

 

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Colleges Sue Federal Government Over Abortion Mandates

Colorado Christian University is suing the federal government over a federal government mandate that requires businesses that provide insurance coverage for employees to also buy coverage that includes abortifacients. The suit is in response to a federal government mandate issued by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last summer that requires insurers to cover “preventative services” without any copays. The morning after pill and ella are among those “services.”

The college is contending this violates their rights to free speech and freedom of religion. The lawsuit contends that: “The government’s mandate unconstitutionally coerces Colorado Christian to violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties.”

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Without Congressional Authorization, HHS Begins to Implement Price Controls

Kevin Williamson at National Review Online writes about HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius’ efforts to implement price controls on insurance premiums.  Despite the fact that ObamaCare will impose a series of costly mandates on insurers but Sibelius will cap premium increases.  These factors will drive insurers out of the marketplace, creating fewer consumers choices, leading to scarcity and eventually, in the absence of market alternatives, a public option (as the only option).

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Why Does the Obama Administration Hate Seniors?

In an absolute abuse of power, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius sent a letter to the 83 year old CEO of drug maker Forest Labs telling him to quit his job or HHS would invoke rarely used federal power to have Medicare, Medicaid and the VA buy drugs from his company.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that this move “looks more like the Administration’s latest bid to intimidate the health-care industry into doing its bidding on prices, regulations and political support for ObamaCare. This is the same agency that has threatened insurers with exclusion from new state-run health exchanges if they raise their premiums more than Mrs. Sebelius wants, or if they spread what she deems to be ‘misinformation’ about the President’s health bill.”

Peter Pitts, a former Food and Drug Administration official who now runs the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, stated that this move by Sibelius “reinforces everybody’s worst fears—that this Administration won’t do business with anybody that doesn’t completely agree with its policy initiatives. Not only will it refuse to even have the argument, it will actively destroy these people.”

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ObamaCare Will Ruin Utah’s Health Exchange

John Graham has a great blog post at National Review, detailing how ObamaCare will destroy Utah’s attempt at a free-market approach to a state exchange.  For the past two years, Utah has been experimenting with different ways to innovate with the state’s Medicaid program.  ObamaCare, however, will strip the state of its ability to make its own decisions about Medicaid and other healthcare spending.   But the Obama Administration is not allowing facts to get in the way.  Even as ObamaCare is going to destroy Utah’s health care program, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is deceptively touting the possibility that ObamaCare could actually strengthen Utah’s system.

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ObamaCare’s Medicaid Problem: Tennessee and Massachusetts

As a recent letter from HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the states demonstrates, Medicaid is out of control, eating up 21% of state spending on average. To handle this financially disastrous situation, Secretary Sebelius advises states realize the “urgency” of their budget concerns and make changes in their state Medicaid programs. However, in reality, there is only so much state leaders can do to curb the enormous toll Medicaid takes on their individual budgets. In order to still receive federal funds for the program – money that has become the life-blood of Medicaid in the states – states cannot reduce eligibility requirements. All they can reasonably do is cut benefits that are not federally required. These cuts are precisely what Secretary Sebelius recommends in her letter, but they are far from enough to fund the states’ $160 billion Medicaid commitments.

Ever-growing enrollment in Medicaid programs is at the core of the budgetary mess facing many states. Counterintuitively though, two states have relatively recently tried to solve the Medicaid problem by dramatically expanding enrollment. The disastrous outcome of Massachusetts’ foray into the health care industry in 2006 is well-known: Bay Staters face the highest insurance premiums in the country. On top of this, Governor Deval Patrick has to-date approved an additional $10.2 billion specifically to cover his state’s Medicaid costs.

A less discussed example of the mess that accompanies drastically expanding health care services is Tennessee’s Medicaid program “TennCare”. Enacted in 1994, the program covered 25% of residents in 2004 and consumed 25% of the state’s budget. Consultants estimated that by 2008 these extensive Medicaid services would consume 91% of state revenue. Even the Democrat Governor Phil Bredseden admitted it was a failure.

Peter Sunderman of The Wall Street Journal highlights these and other components of the “Medicaid Mess” impacting the state and federal spending. But stepping back, it is certainly worth asking: If expansive Medicaid programs cannot do anything but break budgets, how then will ObamaCare’s all-encompassing national plan – i.e. Medicaid-style care for every American – be even remotely viable?

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