Sebelius makes MLK-themed ACA pitch

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius took advantage of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to promote ObamaCare's insurance exchanges, linking insurance coverage to opportunity and equality.

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In a statement released Friday as the holiday weekend began, Sebelius referenced King's 1966 statement that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

“A child who can't focus in school because of untreated asthma or a painful cavity is denied the opportunity to learn and realize his or her full potential. A parent who is unable to work because of untreated high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease is denied the opportunity to provide for his or her family,” Sebelius said. “Because of the Affordable Care Act, it's a new day in health care that is bringing new security and opening new doors of opportunity.”

Sebelius also encouraged citizens to encourage and assist their friends and family in signing up for health insurance through the exchanges. The federal government is hoping to have at least seven million people signed up for coverage by March 1st.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the Obama administration is delaying enforcement of a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would have fined employers that provided top executives better heath coverage than is offered to other employees.

The newspaper reported that the Internal Revenue Service has not yet been able to issue regulations clarifying a portion of the ObamaCare law that prohibits discrimination of eligibility or benefits “in favor of highly compensated individuals.”

Since the agency has not yet determined how to measure health benefits — or which well-paid employees would be considered “highly compensated” — they plan to hold off on penalties, which are set at $100 per day for each employee negatively impacted.

“The IRS has not announced any new or additional information on this issue,” IRS spokesperson Michelle Eldridge said in a statement to The Hill. “The New York Times story refers to IRS Notice 2011-1, which was released to the press on December 22, 2010. That Notice stated that the sanctions under Public Health Service Act Section 2716 will not apply until after generally applicable guidance is issued, because the statute requires regulatory detail in order to operate properly.”

--Justin Sink contributed to this report.