HHS awards $5.9 million contract to Obama crony

posted at 3:21 pm on May 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Two stories coming from Health and Human Services will likely get overlooked today, with the main thrust of conversation turning to same-sex marriage and Barack Obama’s hypocritical attack on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.  Both deserve more attention, especially a curious award of a contract worth nearly $6 million to a crony of Obama’s back in Chicago, which Keith Koffler exposes:

The Department of Health and Human Services last week announced it had awarded a $5.9 million grant to a University of Chicago Medical Center program tied to Michelle Obama and run by Eric Whitaker, one of President Obama’s closest friends.

The Urban Health Initiative, which received the award, was originally based on a smaller program launched during the last decade by Michelle Obama, who was an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center before she departed to become first lady. The UHI is headed up by Obama basketball and golf buddy Whitaker, who has known the president since Obama’s days in law school and who also vacations with the first family.

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also has ties to the UHI. Until resigning to go work at the White House, Jarrett was Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees. And in 2007, a PR firm run by former senior White House adviser and Obama political guru David Axelrod provided provided public relations strategy advice to the UHI, according to the Washington Post.

There is no specific evidence that any of those linked to the Obamas, or the Obamas themselves, influenced the HHS decision to grant the funding to the UHI. But the large award raises questions about appearance, given the number of Obama associates connected to the program and the involvement of the first lady with its founding.

There were 3,000 applicants for this funding, and only 26 awards.  HHS insists that Obama had nothing to do with the decision, and that the process underwent an “objective review.”  It’s just coincidence that an old Obama friend from Chicago wound up winning the contract, while 99.1% of all applicants got a rejection slip.  Amazing!

Next, in a little-noticed part of the Friday afternoon document dump last week, HHS informed insurers that they are now required to give credit to Obama’s health-care reform law when sending out rebate checks:

Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday.

The move is the latest sign the Obama administration is trying to draw attention to the law’s benefits before the fall elections, even though the law faces an uncertain future. The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether its central plank—a mandate that everyone carry insurance—violates the Constitution. Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, has pledged to wipe out the law if elected.

Under the 2010 legislation, insurers that don’t spend a specified amount of revenue on actual medical care—as opposed to administrative costs—must refund the difference to customers. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has projected refunds would total about $1.3 billion and go to roughly 16 million people who buy their own policies or get them through an employer.

Kaiser estimates checks would range from an average of $72 for those with insurance through a large employer to an average of $127 for those who bought individual policies.

Rules finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday instruct insurers to notify recipients of rebates in the first paragraph of the mailing by writing: “This letter is to inform you that you will receive a rebate of a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act—the health reform law.”

Most of them probably would have included some kind of explanation anyway.  Don’t forget that these insurers mostly backed the ObamaCare law, thanks to its individual mandate that would force tens of millions of people to buy their comprehensive product, whether they really need it or not.  With ObamaCare still deeply unpopular, insurers have some stake in boosting it to mitigate consumer sentiment, too.

Still, this looks awfully close to electioneering through regulation.  Only those who believe in magical coincidence would fail to note the proximity of this summer to the 2012 presidential election, and to the conventions.  The federal government doesn’t have any business in forcing insurers to engage in speech to support their own legislative agenda.  While I doubt that insurers will bother fighting HHS on this, and also doubt that it will have any real impact on voter dislike of ObamaCare and the mandate, it’s yet another subtle abuse of power that should not go unremarked.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Tar & feathers.

rayra on May 14, 2012 at 3:23 PM

That doesn’t really say “honorable” on her card, does it? Fricking ice queen.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

OT – Ron Paul quit race.

Schadenfreude on May 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

It just keeps getting worse and worse doesn’t it?

sandee on May 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Wow, that is a step in the right direction. A contract, rather than an outright gift from the nation’s generous taxpayers. Must be an election year.

LegendHasIt on May 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

might as well get as much pork distributed before the july b*tch slap via the supremes…

mittens on May 14, 2012 at 3:26 PM

There is no specific evidence that any of those linked to the Obamas, or the Obamas themselves, influenced the HHS decision to grant the funding to the UHI.

In other news,
the Pope is a muslim

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

error: june

mittens on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

OT – Ron Paul quit race.

Schadenfreude on May 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Good.
Now he can start his Ross Perot schtick. (they even kinda look alike)

Mimzey on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Nothing to see here. Move along.
Bain! Bain! Bain!
Same sex same sex same sex!

AllahsNippleHair on May 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM

There is no specific evidence that any of those linked to the Obamas, or the Obamas themselves, influenced the HHS decision to grant the funding to the UHI.

Of course not. Let’s be O’Reilly and give them the benefit of the doubt. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that come out of his mouth over the last three years, well…I”d be posting from the Bahamas.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

There were 3,000 applicants for this funding, and only 26 awards. HHS insists that Obama had nothing to do with the decision, and that the process underwent an “objective review.” It’s just coincidence that an old Obama friend from Chicago wound up winning the contract, while 99.1% of all applicants got a rejection slip. Amazing

…and all we get to say…is…”OH?!”

KOOLAID2 on May 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Good. Now he can start his Ross Perot schtick. (they even kinda look alike)

Mimzey on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

He will not. Wanna bet?

Archivarix on May 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett also has ties to the UHI. Until resigning to go work at the White House, Jarrett was Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Marvelous. Can someone tell me how a slumlord becomes Chair of such an organization?

a capella on May 14, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Just to be snarky.
Those folks sitting behind Sebelius look like they could use some Human Service.
Nasty looking bunch.

Jabberwock on May 14, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Does this grant award to Urban Health Initiative involve developing patient dumping systems? As I recall, “hospital executive” Michelle Obama was particularly good at that.

Trafalgar on May 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

HHS awards $5.9 million contract to Obama crony
>>the OBOZO regime is clearly the MOST CORRUPT government in American history.

TeaPartyNation on May 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

In other news, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been nominated for the post of “living saint” within the Roman Catholic Church…

Just kidding.

spiritof61 on May 14, 2012 at 3:34 PM

If they have to give credit to Obama for a rebate, are they mandated to mention Obama when rates increase and coverage cuts?

mouell on May 14, 2012 at 3:36 PM

New note to go out in July.
“Never Mind”

Jabberwock on May 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

He will not. Wanna bet?

Archivarix on May 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Nah…you’re probably right.
Biff Johnson will run as a libter. Either him or Steve Huntman.

Mimzey on May 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday.

O_O

What?

So when will the rest of us be required to sing the “Thank You Dear Leader For Your Wisdom and Guidance” song every morning at exactly 0815?

Bishop on May 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

If they have to give credit to Obama for a rebate, are they mandated to mention Obama when rates increase and coverage cuts?

mouell on May 14, 2012 at 3:36 PM

I seem to remember last year of the year before, when insurers sent out premium increase notices that attributed some of the increase to Obamacare, Sebelius said they were lying and threatened to shut them out of the exchanges. So basically, the answer is “NO.”

toby11 on May 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

That “smaller program” that Mrs. O helped set up was a scam that “. . . dumped poor patients on community hospitals, yet the national media ignore the story.” See http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/03/michelle_obamas_patientdumping_1.html
Coincidence my patootie.

natasha333 on May 14, 2012 at 3:42 PM

The check will probably come with some informational material about the program and the challenges presented by Republican obstruction in Congress as well. Lean Forward!

spiritof61 on May 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Nah…you’re probably right.
Biff Johnson will run as a libter. Either him or Steve Huntman.

Mimzey on May 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Ron Paul has already made himself noticed this year, likely secured a plum convention spot and possibly an appointment, and he won’t shoot both his own legacy and his son’s political future with a single slug. Plus, as you correctly pointed out, Johnson already hogged the Libertarian saddle.

Archivarix on May 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

What?

Bishop on May 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

It’s part of the Obama “evolution” of the Frank.

Jabberwock on May 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Let’s be O’Reilly and give them the benefit of the doubt. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that come out of his mouth over the last three years, well…I”d be posting from the Bahamas.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

I don’t watch his ” show” anymore,
but did he give that same benefit of the doubt to Obama bundlers reg. Solyndra and SunPower and others like them too ?
Because I see a pattern emerging regarding FNC now !

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Haliburton!!!!!!

…oh wait…..

To bad this isn’t an election year……

…oh wait…..

Electrongod on May 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM

New HHS rule: When Sebelius enters the room everyone must bow, failure to bow low enough is grounds for immediate execution.

Bishop on May 14, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Of course not. Let’s be O’Reilly and give them the benefit of the doubt. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that come out of his mouth over the last three years, well…I”d be posting from the Bahamas.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Bill’O longs for the big ‘get’. He still dreams about that time little Bammie reached over and touched him on the knee.

slickwillie2001 on May 14, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Tar and feathers is right. There is no other option, because nothing short will teach the scum to quit this crap.

MTF on May 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM

There were 3,000 applicants for this funding, and only 26 awards.

The top 1%! Occupy government contracts!

rbj on May 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

That doesn’t really say “honorable” on her card, does it? Fricking ice queen.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

One of my pet peeves. I don’t care that it’s tradition, practice or “respect”.

Respect is earned.

If I don’t know you from anyone, I certainly don’t know if you’re an honorable person or not. I will call you “sir”, “ma’am” or the title of your job/position, but not, “Reverend”, “Honorable”, “Father”, etc.

Only One should receive any Honor or be called Honorable. It certainly isn’t Kathleen Sebelius.

Logus on May 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Bill’O longs for the big ‘get’. He still dreams about that time little Bammie reached over and touched him on the knee.

slickwillie2001 on May 14, 2012 at 3:48 PM

So BillO is now competing with Chrissy for some tingles ?!

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Swept under the rug with 2000+ waivers from obamacare

cmsinaz on May 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

I hope the insurers would tell them to pound sand

cmsinaz on May 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Kaiser estimates checks would range from an average of $72 for those with insurance through a large employer to an average of $127 for those who bought individual policies.

I’m one of those people who buy their own policies, and my premiums increased by more than a thousand dollars this year, thanks to Obamacare. Now I might get a rebate that won’t even be enough to pay for a tank of gas?

Gee, thanks ever so much Dear Leader.

I can’t wait for this corrupt gang of Chicago thugs to have their criminal and incompetent a$$es booted out of D.C.

AZCoyote on May 14, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Let’s see … suppose it’s 2006 and the headline read “HHS approves $5.9 million grant to Halliburton” – do you think any of the trolls would have believed that W had nothing to do with that? Well, that is really a rhetorical question.

mel23059 on May 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

And Michelle Obama’s salary was $150,000. She suddenly received
a significant raise – up to approximately $300,000! Not long
after, Obama, as Illinois senator, arranged for the UIC to receive
a government grant to build a new pavilion.

Its an Obama World! None of us are surprised.

What I am surprised about is that he gets away with all this.
Noone stands up to this man and his regime.

Amjean on May 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Where are the trolls ?
;-)

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Sounds like politicking, and that’s not illegal.

Also sounds like vote buying, also illegal.

John Kettlewell on May 14, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Sounds like politicking, and that’s not illegal

fixed

John Kettlewell on May 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Because I see a pattern emerging regarding FNC now !

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM

FNC has become a proud member of the MSM and millions of stupid saps tune in every night thinking it’s conservative.

bw222 on May 14, 2012 at 4:15 PM

If there is a requirement to credit ObummerCare on any rebate checks, similarly should thre the insurance companies inform the policy holder of rate increases that occur due to ObummerCare?

E-R

electric-rascal on May 14, 2012 at 4:16 PM

And

Michelle Obama’s salary was $150,000. She suddenly received
a significant raise – up to approximately $300,000! Not long
after, Obama, as Illinois senator, arranged for the UIC to receive
a government grant to build a new pavilion.

Amjean on May 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM

$319,000 to be precise. And the position was eliminated after Moochelle resigned.

bw222 on May 14, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Bill’O longs for the big ‘get’. He still dreams about that time little Bammie reached over and touched him on the knee.

slickwillie2001 on May 14, 2012 at 3:48 PM

So BillO is now competing with Chrissy for some tingles ?!

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Bill’O is still mad his radio show failed when he chose to go up against Rush. No tingle in those legs. Will be interesting to see how Huck does?

olddog58 on May 14, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I cannot wait until this stupid law is crushed by the Supremes and these parasites are kicked to the curb outside the White House. What on earth does this program do, harass fat kids?

magicbeans on May 14, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Because I see a pattern emerging regarding FNC now !

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM

FNC has become a proud member of the MSM and millions of stupid saps tune in every night thinking it’s conservative.

bw222 on May 14, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Sadly yes, and why not? What are the chances that Fox News will ever get some real competition on the right?

slickwillie2001 on May 14, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Note the sign: The HONORABLE Kathleen Sebelius. Nice touch.

Gordy on May 14, 2012 at 4:24 PM

The term “one of Obama’s closest friends” has a whole new meaning now these days!

search4truth on May 14, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Good.
Now he can start his Ross Perot schtick. (they even kinda look alike)

Mimzey on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

wth do you mean “Now”? It’s all his candidacy has ever been.

rayra on May 14, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Is a contract executed under duress valid?

Akzed on May 14, 2012 at 4:32 PM

You vill acknowledge/praise Dear Leader in all that you do..!

d1carter on May 14, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Well now, that should come up to a nice big donation to the Kings campaign coffer very soon, don’t you think?

DDay on May 14, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Dear Insured:

You would have gotten a rebate this summer but the Democrats in the Congress and President passed a blatantly un-Constitutonal bill which the SCOTUS has struck down, so don’t blame us now that you won’t be getting it.

J_Crater on May 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

musollini would be so proud of the democrat fascists.

I cant wait till we get out own version of gulags!

Thank you ignorant rank and file democrat voters!

tom daschle concerned on May 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Huffington Post editor Ethan Klapper reported on Twitter a possible ‘hot mic’ gaffe with President Obama uttering “I gotta get my sh…” after a commencement address speech to students at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York City.

J_Crater on May 14, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Let’s be O’Reilly and give them the benefit of the doubt. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that come out of his mouth over the last three years, well…I”d be posting from the Bahamas.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

I don’t watch his ” show” anymore,
but did he give that same benefit of the doubt to Obama bundlers reg. Solyndra and SunPower and others like them too ?
Because I see a pattern emerging regarding FNC now !

burrata on May 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM

I’ve tailed off to about once a week myself. Couldn’t take it anymore. He was practically begging for about a year for an interview with BHO. Made me sick.

msupertas on May 14, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Corruption, straight up.

Jaibones on May 14, 2012 at 5:10 PM

So, will those of us who got an increase in our premiums also be reminded this is thanks to Obamacare?

jackal40 on May 14, 2012 at 5:10 PM

should not go unremarked.

Ha! What difference does it make if it’s remarked or not? People who care aren’t surprised and most other people don’t care.

yhxqqsn on May 14, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Health-insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal guidelines released Friday.

So if premiums go up in cost, are they still supposed to tell customers its the result of the health care law?

taznar on May 14, 2012 at 5:25 PM

the process underwent an “objective review.”

Yeah, so did “Solyndra”.

GarandFan on May 14, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Is this perhaps the same Whitaker that was just revealed on Hannity’s show to have made the $150,000 bribe offer to Rev. Wright on Obama’s behalf?

This could get interesting.

LooseCannon on May 14, 2012 at 5:46 PM

“Patient dumping is now cool!” says Uncle Sam.

In other news, Moochelle was seen doing a touchdown dance in the Rose Garden.

hillbillyjim on May 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM

You are aware, of course,that the University of Chicago Medical Center is not for profit, meaning there will be no profits to any so-called “cronies”.

plewis on May 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM

You are aware, of course,that the University of Chicago Medical Center is not for profit, meaning there will be no profits to any so-called “cronies”.

plewis on May 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Free loot passed out to entities that do not create value. It simply destroys wealth and opportunity.

tom daschle concerned on May 14, 2012 at 5:58 PM

I heard the same thing on Hannity. Loose Cannon. If Obama golf buddy Whittaker is the guy who tried to bribe Jeremiah Wright AND.just got 6 million dollars from Obama, folks grab your popcorn.

Cavalry on May 14, 2012 at 6:01 PM

HHS informed insurers that they are now required to give credit to Obama’s health-care reform law when sending out rebate checks

The out-of-pocket price for one of my prescriptions went up this month… the insurance company changed the tier at which it covers the drug.

Shouldn’t the insurer have sent me a letter giving credit to Obamacare for that, too?

malclave on May 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

You are aware, of course,that the University of Chicago Medical Center is not for profit, meaning there will be no profits to any so-called “cronies”.

plewis on May 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM

You are aware, of course, that executives of non-profits draw salaries from said non-profits. The First Lady comes to mind; wasn’t she drawing a generous six-figure salary for a make-work position?

Because the organization doesn’t make a profit doesn’t mean that its employees, associates, directors, etc. don’t make a bundle.

hillbillyjim on May 14, 2012 at 6:17 PM

I want the Insurance companies every time they raise my rates to send out a letter thanking Obamacare for the increase.

I am so pissed off with this government that i could chew steel and spit nails.

F_This on May 15, 2012 at 5:29 PM

What a joke. Have you noticed that on the placard in front of these people it says the Honorable Kathleen Sebulious. There is not a damn thing honorable about not one person in government, period.

F_This on May 15, 2012 at 5:34 PM