Topics: Obamacare

Op-Ed: The Sebelius shakedown and the Obamacare failure

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Obamacare,Health and Human Services

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before Congress about her latest (potentially unethical, potentially illegal) stunt to fundraise for Obamacare. For the last couple weeks, she's flown largely under the radar with America's focus firmly on the abuses of the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department. But finally, she'll have to answer for her actions.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Sebelius has gone to various undisclosed health care companies asking for money to promote Obamacare. That money will go to an outside group that will help implement the cost-increasing law. The problem here is two-fold: First, Congress didn't authorize the department to spend money in this way. Second, it could be a conflict of interest if she asked for money from companies that her department regulates. In other words, if they didn't do as she wished, she would have the power to come after them. Before you assume that the federal government is above such behavior, consider the IRS.

On top of that, the outside private group, Enroll America, is run by a cadre of former Obama administration officials and Obama supporters. President Obama's political allies could benefit from the Sebelius shakedown.

Indeed, it seems the president had a revolving door installed at the White House. His former White House health care aide Nancy-Ann DeParle is also out hitting up insurance companies for donations. She went from working in the White House to raising money to fund White House projects. How convenient.

As it should, Congress asked Sebelius to disclose exactly whom she was hustling for money. As Sebelius works for the self-proclaimed "most transparent administration in history," you'd assume she'd be happy to comply. You'd be wrong.

Instead of full disclosure, Sebelius has failed to be forthcoming about her fundraising solicitations. So much for transparency. So much for accountability.

Once again, Americans are seeing the hazards of a poorly designed health care law that Congress had to pass "so you can find out what's in it," to quote Nancy Pelosi. Every day, Americans are finding out what's in it. And they're not liking it.

Americans of the millennial generation will see their insurance costs increase under the contradictorily named "Affordable Care Act." According to a February survey of insurers, under Obamacare the premiums of plans purchased on the individual market for a 27-year old male nonsmoker will be 190 percent higher. As if young people haven't been hit hard enough in the current economy.

As more Americans realize they can't keep their current insurance plan -- despite President Obama's repeated promises to the contrary -- some unions are also coming out in opposition to Obamacare. Some are concerned that it will give employers perverse incentives to drop health care coverage for their employees. Kinsey Robinson, president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers said he's "calling for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act."

Lowering health care costs and protecting patients was the purported goal of Obamacare. But it won't be the end result of the law. For many Americans, Obamacare is doing exactly the opposite of what the president promised it would. That is the definition of a bad law.

That probably also explains why Kathleen Sebelius has resorted to such unusual and controversial tactics to implement the law. A majority of Americans wishes it had never passed; free-market reforms were -- and are -- the right way to go. That wouldn't have required the HHS secretary to arm-twist businesses into bankrolling a bad law. And it certainly wouldn't have required more government secrets.

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