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May 30, 2013

A Way Around the Law

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has taken a lot of heat for asking--some would say shaking down--health insurance executives for money to help implement ObamaCare.  The issue is that Sebelius, as the head of the largest federal agency, which oversees virtually all of the US health care system, is a regulator. And it is at best unethical, and more likely illegal, for a regulator to go panhandling from the very companies she regulates.  Since ObamaCare invests countless new powers in the secretary to make the lives of health insurance executives miserable, they could easily feel obligated to pony up the funds--if for no other reason than to, in essence, buy protection for themselves and their companies.

Once Republicans made a big deal of her panhandling, the secretary tossed out some excuses and general denials, but that's it.  Now we learn from Politico that the Obama administration has turned instead to Nancy Ann DeParle, a prominent White House health policy advisor in Obama's first term.  By relying on DeParle, the administration avoids the charge that a regulator is involved.  And she is close to the president so that if any company doesn't want to play the Obama game, she can let the former boss--and anyone else (like Sebelius)--know. 

A more cynical person might wonder if refusal to pony up some money could lead to reprisals, but we have learned that Obama administration would never use a federal agency, say the IRS, to punish those who weren't supportive of the administration's agenda.  Oh, wait ...

So the Obama administration may have switched the pawns, but the game plan is the same. Get insurers to promote something most no longer support or ... just maybe they'll be audited.

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