This has been an eventful week in Washington…or should I say, for President Obama and his administration?
On top of the recent scandals, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is being accused of soliciting private and non-private companies for donations. Her effort to raise money for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been scrutinized specifically by Republican leaders.
In the Secretary’s defense, Congress has repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s request for supplemental funds to implement the ACA. This leaves HHS in a troubling situation. As a result, HHS must implement the President’s signature health care law with an insufficient budget.
Sebelius’ possible “illegal” fundraising efforts stems from the lack of financial resources to promote the ACA. The Washington Post was first to report on this matter. The Washington Post states that Sebelius had “made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.”
This is a problem because it appears to be a conflict of interest. It is not certain which groups Sebelius has called, but if HHS regulates these organizations, this will unquestionably become a bigger issue than has been presented this week.
Another thing to address is that Sebelius unfairly used her powers to contact the CEOs of for-profit and non-profit insurance companies. It is significant to note because Sebelius’ position as HHS secretary gave her access to organization’s leaders and managers.
As 2014 quickly approaches (it’s already May, seven more months to go!), there is still a lot of work to do before the ACA is fully implemented. Secretary Sebelius is doing her best to promote and to implement the President’s key legislation. However, Sebelius should know that even the HHS secretary must abide by the rules and regulations governing her office.
This is when I can appropriately use the phrase, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”
However, Sebelius’ action raises questions and skepticisms as she is currently making decisions for several components of the ACA. For example, she is consulting with insurance companies for health plans and to set their premium rates. Also, she must confirm plan participations in the ACA’s insurance exchanges. Secretary Sebelius’ fundraising efforts are inappropriate even if the actions are found to be legal.
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