GOP blasts Sebelius for seeking industry funds to promote ObamaCare

Republicans are questioning whether Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius might have broken the law by asking industry groups to help fund the implementation of President Obama's healthcare law.

Sebelius has personally asked executives in the healthcare industry as well as community organizations to contribute to outside groups aiming to boost enrollment in the healthcare law's new programs, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said he will investigate whether the fundraising push is legal.

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“To solicit funds from health care executives to help pay for the implementation of the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is absurd," Hatch said in a statement. "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.” 

Sebelius reportedly sought donations to Enroll America, a non-profit that is planning a major public relations push to ensure that uninsured people enroll in private coverage offered through newly created insurance exchanges.

The group is led by Anne Filipic, who previously worked in the Obama administration.

Enrollment is a major challenge as the healthcare law moves closer to full implementation. The law's political success will be judged largely by how many uninsured people it covers and by its effect on premiums. 

Low levels of participation, especially among young, healthy people, would not only hurt the bottom-line enrollment figures but could also cause premiums to rise higher or more quickly.

But the administration has a very limited budget even to implement the healthcare law, much less implement it, and congressional Republicans have refused to provide any additional funding.