GOP Lawmakers Demand Answers from Sebelius on Obamacare Fundraising

Image: GOP Lawmakers Demand Answers from Sebelius on Obamacare Fundraising

Friday, 28 Jun 2013 10:40 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Republican lawmakers are calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to stop raising money for a campaign promoting Obamacare and to provide full details about her fundraising efforts on behalf of the group.

In a letter to Sebelius Thursday, 28 Republican senators said the secretary may have acted unethically in asking healthcare companies it regulates to help the nonprofit group Enroll America sign-up consumers for health insurance under the new law, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"Many questions remain about the level of coordination between Enroll America and the administration, and the degree to which HHS has been seeking support for it or other third-party entities," wrote Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and 27 of his GOP colleagues.

"We urge HHS to immediately stop its solicitation for, and coordination with, Enroll America until those questions have been answered."

The letter came after media reports in May suggested the secretary was soliciting funds on behalf of Enroll America. Federal law bars officials from soliciting any organization or individual with whom they do business or regulate. Lawmakers also contend that soliciting private funds for a public program is a violation of the Constitution which gives Congress the sole power to determine a public program's level of appropriations.

In their letter, the senators also asked for more information about a May 1 meeting at the White House at which President Barack Obama and Sebelius talked with private foundations about working with Enroll America, according to the Journal.

The letter was issued in response to a June 3 letter from Sebelius' office which said the secretary acted within the law when she solicited help on Obamacare enrollment from a wide range of groups, both within and outside the healthcare community.

It also said that Sebelius sought financial contributions from only two organizations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, neither of which is regulated by the department.

"The secretary is proud to be working with . . . industry leaders in the effort to ensure that eligible Americans are given the tools and information they need to enroll in newly available coverage this fall," said the letter signed by Jim Esquea, assistant HHS secretary for legislation.

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