KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

GOP Probes Sebelius’ Fundraising For Health Law Outreach

Congressional Republicans want to know whom she contacted and which other HHS officials are involved, while Sen. Lamar Alexander said he would ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate. A Sebelius spokesman said her actions were legal and that she had not solicited pharmaceutical and insurance companies regulated by the agency.

Los Angeles Times: GOP Slams Fundraising, Other Efforts To Promote Obama Health Law
Congressional Republicans have opened a new line of attack on President Obama's healthcare law, charging that the administration has improperly sought help from the healthcare industry and other outside groups to implement the landmark statute. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for months has been asking foundations, consumer and business groups, insurance companies and others to help enroll uninsured Americans in health insurance this fall, a key goal of the Affordable Care Act. Administration officials say those actions were entirely appropriate (Levey, 4/13).

Reuters: Senator Says Sebelius Should Stop Healthcare Fundraising
An Obama administration effort to raise private donations to help implement President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law came under fire on Monday from congressional Republicans who claim the action could violate the law. As the Republican-controlled House of Representatives prepared to mount a new vote this week to try to repeal the law, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton asked the administration to identify the companies and organizations that have received fundraising calls from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Morgan, 5/13).

Modern Healthcare: Sebelius' Fundraising For Healthcare Reform Questioned
Republican lawmakers are digging in their teeth on the Obama administration's efforts to solicit help and donations for private organizations that are working to enroll millions of Americans in new coverage under the healthcare reform law. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said late Monday that he will ask the Government Accountability Office this week to open an investigation into the legality of HHS Secretary Katherine Sebelius' efforts to encourage private health stakeholders to spend money promoting Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Block, 5/13).

The Hill: GOP Probes Sebelius Fundraising Push
House Republicans sought detailed information Monday about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's effort to raise money for a group promoting President Obama's healthcare law. GOP leaders on House committees wrote to Sebelius on Monday asking for a breakdown of the groups she contacted and a list of any other HHS officials involved in the fundraising push (Baker, 5/13).

CQ HealthBeat: Sebelius Won’t Stop Seeking Funds For Enroll America From 'Non-Regulated' Groups
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is going full speed ahead with requests to industry executives and other organizations to assist private sector efforts to enroll the uninsured under the health law, despite protests from GOP lawmakers that her efforts on behalf of the group Enroll America may be illegal. HHS spokesman Jason Young said in an interview Monday that Sebelius has not solicited money from regulated entities such as pharmaceutical and insurance companies (Reichard, 5/13).

A second controversy is brewing that could also touch the health law's implementation -

Bloomberg: IRS Focus On Tea Parties Stirs Dissent On Health Care Law
A handful of Cincinnati-based Internal Revenue Service employees have accomplished what no bipartisan White House dinner ever could: uniting the U.S. Congress….Even as President Barack Obama yesterday labeled the IRS action "outrageous," the issue will complicate his ability to press other initiatives, including implementing the health-care law, in which the IRS plays an enforcement role, political scientists and strategists from both parties said yesterday (Bykowicz).

The Hill: Turmoil Toughens IRS Job On Healthcare
The nonpartisan IRS is charged with some of the law's most important functions, such as distributing tax credits and enforcing the individual mandate to buy health insurance. IRS duties on healthcare were bound to be politically charged given the controversy surrounding the law, which remains divisive with the public. Now the IRS's job has become even more difficult given the certainty of an investigation into the agency’s scrutiny of conservative groups (Viebeck, 5/13).

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