Tag Archives: Sebelius

Alexander Calls for Investigation of HHS Secretary

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may be breaking federal law by raising money and working with private groups to help roll out the federal health care law “outside of the government,” according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
“Secretary Sebelius’ fundraising for and coordinating with private entities helping to implement the new health care law may be illegal, should cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress,” Alexander said.
The ranking Republican on the Senate committee that oversees health care policy, Alexander likened Sebelius’ actions to the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. That erupted when it was discovered that a Reagan administration official, Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, sold arms to Iran and sent some of the money through private groups to arm Nicaraguan rebels after Congress refused to appropriate funds for that purpose.
“Only the Congress has the authority to appropriate money,” Alexander told reporters in Nashville. “And when the secretary seeks to do things outside of the government, which Congress refuses to do, the Constitution doesn’t permit [it] and the federal law makes it illegal.”
Alexander cited a Washington Post article from last week. The Post reported Sebelius was asking health industry executives, community organizations and church groups to assist groups like Enroll America, a nonprofit coalition working to ensure Americans get enrolled for coverage under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Asked for comment, HHS spokesman Jason Young said in an email to the Times Free Press on Saturday that the practice is legal. He emphasized that “the Secretary has made no fundraising requests to entities regulated by HHS.”
“Part of our mission is to help uninsured Americans take advantage of new affordable, high quality insurance options that are coming, thanks to the health law,” he said.
For the last several months, Young said, Sebelius “has been working with a full range of stakeholders who share in the mission of getting Americans the help they need and deserve. We have always worked with outside groups, and the efforts now ramping up are just one more part of that work.”

Note: Alexander’s press release is below.

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Alexander, Corker to Sebelius: Do What Haslam Wants on Medicaid

News release from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker:
Washington, March 28 – Tennessee Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker today urged the Obama administration to quickly consider Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s request for flexibility in using the federal dollars provided to expand health care coverage to 175,000 Tennesseans under the new health care law.
In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Alexander and Corker said: “We write to ask that you give timely and speedy consideration to a request announced today by Governor Bill Haslam to provide health care coverage to 175,000 Tennesseans by leveraging available federal dollars in the new exchange.”
They continued: “Nashville is the health care services capital of the country and if your Department would support Tennessee in doing what the state does best, Tennessee will continue to find innovative ways to provide better care for its citizens. We urge you to work with Governor Haslam to implement his vision for achieving quality health care for Tennesseans by Tennesseans, particularly for those who currently do not have health insurance.”
The senators also noted that they last week introduced a bipartisan budget amendment to end the department’s practice of stalling state Medicaid waiver applications, in some instances for years, which has slowed innovations in care for Medicaid patients and impeded states’ ability to manage their annual budget process.
The senators added: “In this time of state budget constraints it is more important than ever that states have the necessary flexibility to determine how best to care for its citizens.”
The full text of the letter is below:

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Haslam: Feds Offering More Flexibility on Medicaid Expansion

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam wants more answers from the federal government before he decides whether Tennessee should expand its Medicaid rolls as part of the national health care overhaul. But his Republican colleagues in the Legislature may not let him get to that point.
Republican bills before both chambers would prohibit the governor from pursuing an expansion to TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.
Haslam told reporters last week that the maneuvering in the Legislature hasn’t stopped him from closely evaluating the prospect of taking up the federal government on increasing eligibility to 138 percent of poverty.
“Our job is to go do the homework, make a decision and make our case,” Haslam said.
“We’re going to weigh the costs to the state, the impact on health care and the impact on hospitals,” he said. “I feel like we owe it to the citizens to do that.”
Haslam said conversations with U.S. Health and Human Resources Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have revealed that Tennessee could be granted some breaks on benefits for the estimated 145,500 people would be added to the TennCare rolls under an expansion.

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Haslam on Health Care Exchange Delay: It’s Obama’s Fault

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that a lack of information from the White House is delaying a decision about whether the state should run its own health insurance exchange under the new federal health care law.
Haslam told reporters that President Barack Obama’s administration has refused to address a series of questions about the health insurance marketplaces raised by Republican governors, including whether states would be able to create wellness-based incentives to encourage healthy behavior.
“I think that’s a key to healthcare in the country, people taking more responsibility,” he said.
Other unresolved questions include whether family members participating in different plans will be covered by the same provider; how the state will be able to avoid being double-charged when seniors transition to Medicare; and if the state will be able to access information stored in the federal database.
“You literally have us saying we want to come sit down and talk about this to ask some of our questions, and get answers,” Haslam said. “And their response coming back has been ‘there’s no need in doing that.’ And I don’t find that an appropriate response.”

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DesJarlais Denounces Fed Funding of Soft Drink Tax Advocacy

News release from U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais:
WASHINGTON, DC -Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for information on the use of federal funds administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in lobbying and public advocacy efforts attacking American food and beverage products.
Several states have used federal grants to run public affairs and lobbying campaigns to push for taxes on soda products, an act prohibited by the federal government. Additionally, states have been using CDC grant money to run misleading advertisements attacking American food and beverage products and the companies that make them.
Representative DesJarlais has introduced legislation preventing the use of taxpayer dollars in advertising campaigns against any food or beverage deemed safe and lawfully marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

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