Sebelius Raises Eyebrows By Soliciting Big Donations For Health Law Outreach Campaign

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked businesses and charitable groups to make large donations to help underwrite the costs of public outreach associated with the overhaul. A GOP leader is questioning the legality of the efforts.

The New York Times: Cabinet Secretary Solicits Large Donations To Publicize Health Care Law
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, has solicited sizable donations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, the tax preparation service, as part of a multimillion-dollar campaign to ensure the success of President Obama's health care law, administration officials said Sunday, even as a leading Senate Republican raised questions about the legality of her efforts. The foundation is expected to contribute as much as $10 million, while H&R Block is expected to make a smaller donation of about $500,000, the officials said (Pear, 5/12).

The Washington Post: Budget Request Denied, Sebelius Turns To Health Executives To Finance Obamacare
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama's landmark health-care law, two people familiar with the outreach said. Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress repeatedly rejected the Obama administration's requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving HHS to implement the president's signature legislative accomplishment on what officials have described as a shoestring budget (Kliff, 5/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Sebelius Sought Industry Funds For Health Law
Because of the way the health law was written, Washington ended up with few resources to try to sign up uninsured people in the 33 states that refused to run their own insurance exchanges. The Obama administration has said before that it wants to try to make up for HHS' limited funding for public outreach work by tapping outside help (Radnofsky, 5/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Senator Takes Issue With Fundraising Pitches By Health And Human Services Secretary
The administration has recently announced it would be directing $200 million to states, private groups and local health centers so that they can hire workers who can help consumers pick the insurance plan best for them. The fundraising pitches appear to be another step along those lines. Beginning Oct. 1, people can start signing up for coverage through new state and federal health exchanges. But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that soliciting money from health care executives is absurd. "Moving forward, I will be seeking more information from the administration about these actions to help better understand whether there are conflicts of interest and if it violated federal law," Hatch said (5/10).

Reuters: Obama's Health Secretary Seeks Donation From Companies For Healthcare Law
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking companies for financial donations to help implement President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, months before it is due to take effect. In telephone calls that began around March 23, officials say, Obama's top healthcare adviser has been seeking assistance from companies in the healthcare field and other industries as well as from healthcare providers, patient advocacy groups, churches and other charitable organizations (Morgan, 5/11).

The Hill: HHS: Nothing Improper About Sebelius's ObamaCare Fundraising
The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) says there's nothing illegal or improper about soliciting donations to help promote President Obama's healthcare law. Republicans leapt at the news that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been asking industry and community groups to donate to Enroll America, an outside organization created to promote the health law and encourage people to enroll in its new coverage options (Baker, 5/12).

Modern Healthcare: GOP Senator Says Sebelius’ Fundraising May Violate Federal Law
The ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Saturday said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may be violating federal law in her fundraising efforts to help implement the 2010 healthcare overhaul. Recently Sebelius has asked businesses and charitable organizations to donate money to organizations that are helping to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but an HHS spokesman said in an e-mail the department has not solicited funds from entities that HHS regulates, such as hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies (Zigmond, 5/11).

Politico: Kathleen Sebelius Pitches Health Industry On Obamacare Outreach
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has stepped up her pitch to health law stakeholders to chip in on Obamacare outreach and enrollment efforts, administration officials confirmed Friday…The Washington Post, which first reported Sebelius’s more aggressive pitch, suggested federal regulations prohibited the secretary from asking for funds from industry officials in her official capacity, that she could only solicit as a private citizen (Cheney and Norman, 5/10).

Also in the news -

Kaiser Health News: Obama: 'The Law Is Here To Stay' (Video)
Kaiser Health News has a video from a speech that President Barack Obama gave Friday, in which he emphasized his administration's commitment to a full rollout of all the health law's provisions (5/10).

Medpage Today: Obama: Don'Be 'Bamboozled' On Health Law
After months of prodding from Democrats on the Hill, President Obama is again taking to the bully pulpit to defend his landmark health reform law, which remains a mystery to many Americans more than 2 years after its passage. The president, speaking from the East Room of the White House, said opponents of the Affordable Care Act spread "misinformation," adding the law is "too important for political games." "Don't just read a blog or some commentary from some pedant that has a political agenda. Make sure you know what the facts are," Obama told the public (Pittman, 5/10).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.