Kathleen Sebelius

House committee grills Sebelius on Obamacare implementation, website problems

Kathleen Sebelius

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee got their chance to ask embattled Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, and other issues that have arisen in recent days with the law.

“The Energy and Commerce Committee welcomes the President’s point person on healthcare, Secretary Sebelius, as part of our continuing oversight of the healthcare law and we look forward to a thoughtful conversation on a number of issues, including transparency and fairness,” said Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in his prepared opening remarks.

Sebelius Reveals Administration’s Flawed ObamaCare Concept of Insurance

Kathleen Sebelius

It’s well established by this point that ObamaCare’s full implementation in 2014 will cause premiums to increase significantly.  This cold fact draws a sharp contrast to President Obama’s campaign promise that he would cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year, and Nancy Pelosi’s 2012 pledge that under ObamaCare “everybody will have lower rates.” The Obama administration is now searching for talking points to explain these failures as the looming realities of 2014 begin to confront the administration’s prior platitudes.

The latest theory making its way through the Beltway is that coverage under ObamaCare will be more expensive because it will provide the type of comprehensive coverage that we’ve all been waiting for.  Here is how the AP reported on HHS Secretary Sebelius’s recent comments in response to a study by the Society of Actuaries finding that insurance companies will have to pay out an average of 32% more for medical claims under ObamaCare:

At a White House briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes for health insurance today is so skimpy it can’t be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. “Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don’t pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus,” she said. “They’re really mortgage protection, not health insurance.”

The Road to 2014: Obamacare Regulations Ramp Up

We are now only a month into the President Obama lame duck-era, yet the post-election deluge of Obamacare regulations is already well underway. Clearly, these regulations were completed prior to the election, withheld to prevent any political blowback. This should come as no surprise. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest expansive entries into the Federal Register:

Essential Health Benefits (77 FR 70644, November 26, 2012)

Obamacare lists ten broad categories of health benefits as essential health benefits (EHB), to be defined in detail by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has instead put this burden on the states. States are to choose a benchmark plan to serve as the framework for EHB in that state. The states that refuse will have a default benchmark plan assigned to them. Individual health policies sold on state or federally facilitated exchanges (referred to as qualified health plans, or QHP) must actually provide these EHB. For employer sponsored group health plans, only non-grandfathered plans that are insured in the small group market must provide EHB. Any grandfathered, large market, or self-funded group health plan does not need to provide EHB, but they cannot impose any lifetime or annual limits on the dollar value of EHB. Welcome to Obamacare.

Dems do not want to talk about ObamaCare

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that a prominent liberal advocacy group was telling supporters of ObamaCare to avoid talking about claims made by Democrats during the debate over the legislation in Congress earlier this year, such as the mythical claims of deficit reduction.

Now, another group, Health Care for America Now, is encouraging supporters of ObamaCare to avoid discussing ObamaCare entirely with voters:

The progressive coalition Health Care for America Now fought hard to pass health care reform. Now it’s fighting hard to help reelect lawmakers who voted for the bill — even if it means not talking about it.

While polls show that health reform has become slightly more popular since passage, it’s still a polarizing issue, particularly in districts where Republicans and conservative groups have bombarded voters with negative ads.

Now, HCAN’s field crews are finding that the best way to support reform-friendly lawmakers is to talk about something else: jobs, the economy or other issues likely to resonate more with voters.

“We want to be flexible in talking about what is most relevant to constituents, whatever issues are most motivational,” said HCAN’s national field director, Margarida Jorge, who organizes a daily call with their partner organizations. “We can have a high level of focus on health care but also understand at times the focus is going to shift.”

HCAN activists say they are not dodging their key issue; rather, they want to keep pace with voter concerns, which have markedly shifted over the past year.

White House helped pro-Obamacare group raise funds

White House

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday that offered some light on the Obama administration’s efforts to raise money for an outside group, Enroll America, to promote Obamacare.

Outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was an already known figure in the push for funding for Enroll America. But the GAO report reveals that the efforts go all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

The White House allegedly was involved in seeking financial support for a pro-ObamaCare group, according to a new report issued in response to Republican concerns about the administration’s fundraising efforts.

Until now, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was the only official known to have solicited financial support for Enroll America, a nonprofit that promoted enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. But a Government Accountability Office report released Monday detailed not only the secretary’s involvement but that of a White House adviser.

According to the report, though HHS officials said they were “not aware” of any federal government officials outside the agency soliciting funds for Enroll America, a representative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told GAO “about a discussion” in 2012 between one of their staffers and the “Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy.”

Though not named in the report, this would have been Jeanne Lambrew. The GAO said they were told the official nudged the foundation to give a “significant” contribution.

Today in Liberty: Republicans must take on cronyism, national ID making a comeback

“If the grassroots, conservative activists, and tea parties are going to change Washington, they must change the GOP. To change the GOP, its incumbent faces must be changed. These are the three incumbent races that matter most. Right now, the grassroots are behind. They have to make up ground.”Erick Erickson

— Democrats apparently serious about Sebelius: It’s not a joke, folks. Democrats are serious about their efforts to draft former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Kansas. “I can’t think of a person who’s in a better position to defend Obamacare than Sebelius,” a Democratic strategist told The Hill. “If she runs and she becomes a viable and serious candidate for Senate, that really throws a wrench into the Republicans’ playbook and certainly their narrative that there’s this kryptonite out there called Obamacare.” People closest to Sebelius doubt she’ll run, largely because it’s just too soon after her tumultuous tenure in the Obama administration. Also, President Obama and Obamacare just aren’t that popular in Kansas.

Kathleen Sebelius considering Senate bid in Kansas

Not even a week after she resigned her post in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, The New York Times reports that former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is considering a bid for U.S. Senate in Kansas:

Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea.
[…]
Democrats say that Ms. Sebelius would be their best hope at winning in a tough state, especially if Mr. Roberts loses his primary to Milton Wolf, a Tea Party-backed radiologist who has alarmed mainstream Republicans with some of his actions, such as when he posted gruesome pictures of gunshot victims on Facebook.

Perhaps more significant, Ms. Sebelius would force Republicans to spend money in Kansas as they tried to fight off her challenge. Her family has a long history in the state, and she was a popular, twice-elected governor. In 2006, she was re-elected with 58 percent of the vote.

One last awkward glitch for Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius

In her farewell remarks at this White House this afternoon, Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned her post as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, experienced one last embarrassing glitch. She awkwardly stopped her speech, shuffled the papers from which she was reading before telling reporters: “Unfortunately, a page is missing”:

Thanks, Obamacare!

Today in Liberty: Trey Gowdy destroys Lois Lerner, Republicans push Internet sales tax again

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.” — Adam Smith

— KathLOLn SebLOLus: In case you haven’t heard, our dear Health and Human Services secretary has called it quits. Sebelius recently submitted to her resignation to President Obama, apparently in early March. He’s expected to, at some point today, appoint OMB Director Sylvia Burwell to succeed Sebelius.

Kathleen Sebelius resigns after tumultuous Obamacare rollout

The New York Times reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned her post this week, though she apparently wasn’t forced, and the White House will announce her replacement tomorrow morning:

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.
[…]
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.

Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.

The president is hoping that Ms. Burwell, 48, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy, will bring an intense focus and management acumen to the department. The budget office, which she has overseen since April of last year, is deeply involved in developing and carrying out health care policy.

Sebelius’ resignation comes less than two weeks after the first Obamacare enrollment period ended. Republicans pushed the White House to hold the HHS secretary for the utter failures of the initial launch of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov.


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