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Why is the Education Department peddling Obamacare?

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Beltway Confidential,Education,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Ashe Schow

What the Department of Education has to do with promoting and implementing President Obama’s signature healthcare law has been a mystery to several members of Congress.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., sent a July 16 letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seeking answers, and has finally heard back.

Duncan contends that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education go hand in hand, saying “there is a connection between health and student performance.” Unhealthy children “are less likely to be successful academically than their healthier peers.”

To that end, Duncan said the Education Department would share “basic materials developed by [HHS] for our stakeholders to use at their discretion.”

He made clear that “HHS does not provide funds to the department for these efforts” and that Education “has devoted a very minimal amount of staff time and resources for these efforts, and thus expenses related to these efforts are a very minimal part of the salaries and expenses section of the budget.”

Duncan also said that “no single department employee works exclusively on this effort.”

He claimed that using federal funds would get information to the public in a “more efficient and cost-effective manner.”

It is still unclear why the Education Department must spend time and resources on Obamacare, which is why Thune spokeswoman AshLee Strong released the following statement:

While Senator Thune appreciates the Department of Education's response to his July 16th letter, it's disappointing that the agency failed to answer several important questions included in the letter. We will continue to seek answers to these outstanding questions, including:

• What statutory authority does the DoED have to carry out such promotion of the president’s health care law?

• What is DoED asking of individual schools?

• What are the specific costs of DoED's ObamaCare promotion?

• How many hours are DoED staffers using daily to promote ObamaCare?”

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