Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone, hat in hand, to 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.
Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving HHS to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment on what officials have described as a shoestring budget.
Bizarrely, HHS spokesman Jason Young claims that “Sebelius did not solicit for funds directly from industries that HHS regulates, such as insurance companies and hospitals, but rather asked them to contribute in whatever way they can.”
Well, Mr. Young, it’s not a “contribution” when the government regulator comes with its hand out. These are hence not “contributions,” but monies obtained under duress, and the fear of adverse government action.
I realize scandal investigations are backing up like cars on the Beltway in rush hour, but this one seems like it should go close to the front of the line. We have an unpopular health-care bill with gross implementation and design problems that exceeds its budget. The solution? Stiff arm the industry for “contributions.” It’s apparent that both Obamacare and the HHS secretary operating it are out of control. Congress should investigate and any monies obtained in this fashion should be returned. Then we should pause, assess where Obamacare stands and figure out if it can be implemented without inflicting harm on 300 million Americans — or should I say, any more harm. It has already sent insurance costs skyrocketing, depressed hiring, cut Medicare Advantage, caused employers to dump their plans and forced states to spend gobs of money. And, if the Oregon study is accurate, we don’t even know if mandatory coverage is going to make people healthier.
The administration is in a frenzy to start the program precisely because it is a hopeless mess. If Obamacare stalls now, the Obama team reasons, they’ll never get it going again.(It’s not like anyone other than the Obama team is out there hollering for their Obamacare.) That in and of itself should tell you all you need to know about Obamacare.
So, Congress by all means should bring in Sebelius to testify. The White House should put an end to her noxious practice. And then everyone should stop, look around and figure out whether her funding scheme is one more piece of evidence that the whole thing is unsustainable.