Opinion

Glass houses have terrible views

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla) (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

I think Kathleen Sebelius is ready for that Senate run.

Despite her reps’ claims to the contrary, it’s clear she’s already got the fundraising part down. According to a GAO audit, the outgoing HHS Secretary hit the phones last year in a bid to shore up funding for Enroll America, the nonprofit charged with driving enrollment in the federal exchanges.

According to the report, first broke by the New York Times but reported here, as well, Sebelius started calling CEOs and “requested financial support for Enroll America from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block,” as well as “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.”

In fact, all told, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ended up shelling out $14 million in grants for PPACA outreach since 2010, nearly half of what the administration expected Enroll America needed to help drive enrollment. (I’m assuming those “donations” were tax-deductible…)

Republicans naturally cried foul, accusing Sebelius of breaking the law and circumventing their own efforts to sabotage that same outreach. Of course, they used different words.

The administration insisted the fund-raising, for lack of a better word, was perfectly legal. Ethical? Maybe not so much, but who’s gonna be the first one to throw stones? Of course, they used different words, too.

And why shouldn’t she in this post-Citizens United world? So corporations are people, but not nonprofits? Or only faith-based nonprofits? I’ve lost track…

Speaking of hypocrisy – more commonly known as “politics” in the Beltway – Senators and Reps of all stripes are taking advantage of the week off to go home and work on their own fundraising efforts.

One of those is Louisiana’s GOP favorite, Rep. Bill Cassidy, who stepped in it last week when during a keynote address to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, he called the uninsured “relatively less sophisticated, less comfortable with forms, less educated.

“They’re illiterate,” he added. “I’m not saying that to be mean; I say that in compassion. They cannot read. The idea that they’re going to go on the internet and work through a 16-page document to put in their data and sign up does not reflect an understanding of who is having the hardest time in our economy.”

Apparently Cassidy is unaware that in 2008, blue-collar workers made up more than half of all GOP primary voters – a percentage that’s almost certainly grown since then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for calling people stupid (it's actually part of my job) but I’ve also heard about not biting the hand that feeds.

But I digress. It’s worth mentioning here, that while this scandal (quietly) breaks, the news is all about affirmative action and the royal couple visiting Australia. What year is this, anyway?

On a related note, her pending departure won’t change things. And most voters already realize that. More than 60 percent told Huffington Post and YouGov that “a change in leadership won’t better or worse.” And, in fact, according to that same poll, far more people blame the president for the law’s bungled rollout than the departing secretary, by a 40 percent to 5 percent margin.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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