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The government never merely “asks” for help from those it regulates

The government never merely “asks” for help from those it regulates

Kathleen Sebelius shook down health care providers to provide assistance to private group helping with Obamacare sign ups.

We have seen this movie before.

When passing Obamacare in the first instance, the government co-opted the health care and insurance companies it regulated and would regulate into supporting the bill. Their cooperation was critical.

Fast forward to the Obamacare sign-up problems. A key player has been the private Enroll America, which itself has not been without controversy. Enroll American obtained substantial funding from private insurers who had been solicited directly by Kathleen Sebelius to make the donations.

The Washington Post reported back in June:

Sebelius told members of Congress that she has made five outreach calls on behalf of Enroll America, a new organization that aims to increase public participation in the Affordable Care Act.

“Three were to discuss the organization and suggest the entities look at the organization,” Sebelius testified at a House hearing Tuesday. The other two phone calls, to officials at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, were direct solicitations for fundraising. Sebelius said that she did not request a specific level of donation from those two companies.

The secretary’s outreach on behalf of the nonprofit came after Congress repeatedly denied requests from her agency to increase funding for the health care law. Without those additional funds, the department has said it lacks the resources to run a full-fledged campaign explaining the law to the public and promoting enrollment.

Sebelius has come under heavy criticism from Republicans for her fundraising work for Enroll America. Some argue that she is circumventing the wishes of Congress, and others have worried that she is pressuring companies that are regulated by her agency. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has described the secretary’s efforts as “arguably an even bigger issue” than the Iran-Contra Affair.

Sebelius defended her actions Tuesday, saying that she has placed phone calls to Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures health care products, and Ascension Health, a Catholic hospital system.

The secretary also had a conversation about Enroll America with George Halvorson, chief executive of Kaiser Permanente, a California-based health insurer.

The NY Times reported yesterday that the effort went beyond the calls also included requests to insurance companies directly regulated by Sebelius to give technical assistance to Enroll America:

She also requested “nonfinancial support, such as technical assistance, from Ascension Health, Johnson & Johnson and Kaiser, which consists of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.” …

The report notes that the Health and Human Services Department regulates Kaiser, Ascension and Johnson & Johnson.
A spokesman for Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, one of five lawmakers who had requested the report, said the senator hoped Ms. Sebelius’s replacement “will not ask the entities she regulates to support the president’s allies.”
Health and human services officials told investigators that they were not aware of any federal employees outside their agency who had solicited funds on behalf of Enroll America.
However, the report says a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation employee told investigators of a 2012 conversation in which a White House official “indicated a hope that R.W.J.F. would provide a significant financial contribution to support” Enroll America.
The report identifies the official as the deputy assistant to the president for health policy, but does not give her name, Jeanne M. Lambrew.
The foundation said the White House had estimated that groups like Enroll America would need $30 million. It said it had made grants to Enroll America totaling $13 million, but denied they were in response to the secretary’s call.

When the Secretary of HHS calls a company HHS regulates to “ask” for help, it’s a shakedown because of the unequal power relationship.


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As a paralegal, I often end up interviewing prospective clients. Invariably, the subject of complaining about things he/she has signed comes up. I ask why did you sign something you didn’t like?

The answer usually is my lawyer told me I had to, or the judge told me I had to.

Then I have to explain how that is not what a signature on a document means.

What this crime spree government is doing is what we usually call the Chicago way. But it’s actually worse – it’s the liberal assembly-line way.

“Don’t wait until the train is really going – you could fall underneath it. Better to get on now before it’s dangerous.”

Or in my little corner of the world: “If you don’t sign the papers, …”

“Technical support” is financial support.

This is a stellar example of how fascist economics works.

And I remind everyone that fascist economics is…

1. THE most dangerous Collectivist economic model for American, and

2. Pres. ScamWOW’s favorite model.

ObamaDoggle is NOT “socialist”, though it is Collectivist. It is fascist, which you can see in the structures that PRETEND to leave property in the hands of its owners, while abstracting CONTROL of property to the central government.

And ObamaDoggle is a true monstrosity on every level imaginable.

    Valerie in reply to Ragspierre. | April 21, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I think this administration is taking far too many lessons from our closest neighbor to the south, Mexico. Mexico is an oligarchy that runs on bribes, with the results one would expect. Living in Mexico has long been cheaper than living in the US, but I never wanted to live in a third-world hellhole.

      Bruno Lesky in reply to Valerie. | April 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      I live part-time just outside of Ithaca NY and part-time in the Dominican Republic.

      I use the term “2nd world hell hole” other than 3rd world. Am I referring to Ithaca or Cabarete?

      It’s refreshing in the DR to have the politicians known overtly throughout the land as a criminal class. In the US, so often the undeserving of the elected are seen as “public servants.”

      Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | April 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      It may seem a distinction without a difference, but I suggest a system like Mexico’s that countenances bribes is not as dangerous as one that runs on fascist economics.

      Bribes are recognized as corruption.

      “Lobbying” in the only real competition that fascist systems encourage is totally legitimate and acceptable.

      And, at the end of the day, you own what is yours in Mexico.

      Here, you own what they have not come for yet…though you may get to hold onto the paper conveying property rights to you.

    …structures that PRETEND to leave property in the hands of its owners, while abstracting CONTROL of property to the central government.

    The government has control; the private sector has liability.

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – While open enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they can’t find doctors, landing them into a state described as “medical homelessness.”

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.

Henry Hawkins | April 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Is this a RICO thing? Please tell me this is a RICO thing.