Before the election last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got into a bit of a jam when she violated federal law by ‘accidentally’ endorsing President Obama’s reelection at an appearance in her official HHS capacity — and it sounds like she’s once again wading dangerously close to even more questionable territory, this time on behalf of their struggling ObamaCare-implementation efforts. WaPo reports:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone hat in hand to health industry executives, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law.
Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress has repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving Health and Human Services to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment on a shoestring budget.
Sebelius has, over the past three months, made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and directly asked that they contribute to non-profits that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to a Health and Human Services official familiar with the Secretary’s outreach who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But, uhm… can she even do that?
Sebelius must walk a tightrope in asking for money. Federal regulations do not allow department officials to fundraise in their professional capacity. They do, however, allow cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens “if you do not solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department, and you do not use your official title,” according to Justice department regulations.
“It sounds like the people she’s going to are people that are being regulated by her agency, I think that is definitely problematic,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. “That’s not a statement about the value of the law, but it’s a statement about using the power of government to compel giving or insinuate that giving is going to be looked at favorably by the government.”
The sourced HHS official “described her work as well within the bounds of her authority,” but possibly extorting money from the very same people who have a very definite and vested interest in how the health care law is rolled out/who gets to roll it out? Excuse me, but does that not sound like a perfect setup for some cronyishly/government-pressured shady scenarios?
This all comes down to the fact that ObamaCare is in some serious trouble, hence why President Obama is starting a brand-new charm offensive for ObamaCare to help assuage some of the Democrats’ nervousness about the laws effects on the 2014 midterms. The president delivered a Mother’s Day-centric speech on its merits from the White House on Friday, assuring us that the law is going to take time, there are going to be kinks, “you’re benefiting from it, you just may not know it yet,” the usual.
He made his remarks at the White House alongside women and families who say they’re already benefiting from the measure, which has become known as Obamacare. The event was pegged to Mother’s Day.
“Because of this law there are millions of other Americans – moms and dads and daughters and sons – who no longer have to hang their fortunes on chance. Because we are not going to inflict that hardship on the American people again,” Obama said. “The United States of America does not sentence its people to suffering just because they don’t make enough to buy insurance on the private market, just because their work doesn’t provide health insurance, just because they fall sick or suffer an accident.”
The law, he said, particularly benefits women, including its provisions providing better access to mammograms and birth control, as well as new measures allowing children to remain on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.
And then, just for good measure, there’s this. I can’t even talk about this.
President Obama: Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. #ThanksObamacare
— Kathleen Sebelius (@Sebelius) May 10, 2013