By Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck - 05/14/13 10:55 PM EDT
Three congressional committees are now investigating the fundraising pitches Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has made on behalf of an outside group promoting ObamaCare.
Sebelius has asked healthcare stakeholders to contribute to Enroll America, a nonprofit group promoting the healthcare law and encouraging people to sign up for new coverage options. The department has defended the requests as part of HHS's mission, but congressional Republicans clearly see a political weapon in the fundraising effort.
Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee questioned Sebelius about the fundraising in a letter Tuesday.
“Our initial reaction is that this appears at best to be an inherent conflict of interest and at worst a potentially illegal augmentation of appropriation," the senators wrote.
The House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees sent similar letters Monday evening, asking Sebelius to detail her contact with stakeholder groups and any legal advice she sought before making the solicitations.
Healthwatch has more on the latest inquiry.
Hoyer has concerns: Add House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to the list of Democrats who say they're worried about potential problems in the implementation of the healthcare law.
“It's going to be difficult to implement without glitches and I think it would be a surprise if there weren't some glitches. And, yes, I think the Republicans will try to make as much hay of any glitches that may occur as they possibly can,” Hoyer told reporters Tuesday.
Read The Hill's coverage of Hoyer's remarks.
Pelosi praises ACA: The Affordable Care Act deserves the credit for the country's declining deficit, according to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
"The Affordable Care Act is bringing the cost of health care in our country down in both the public and private sector. And that is what is largely responsible for the deficit coming down," Pelosi said on MSNBC.
Healthwatch has more.
CBO says costs falling: The Congressional Budget Office released revised estimates Tuesday of the cost of the Affordable Care Act's coverage provisions. The cost of expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies for private insurance fell by about $74 billion. Those policies will now cost the government roughly $1.8 trillion over 10 years, according to the CBO.
There are many more details on Healthwatch.
IRS and ObamaCare: Republican Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.) is preparing legislation to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from hiring new agents to implement ObamaCare in light of the agency's targeting of conservative groups.
The scandal has prompted fears that the IRS is incapable of neutrally enforcing major provisions of the healthcare reform law, including its individual mandate to buy insurance. Heller's bill, expected later in the week, would suspend funding for new employees to carry out those new functions.
Read more at Healthwatch.
More for less: Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are pushing to overhaul the Medicare card in light of a new, cheaper cost estimate for the move.
The Medicare and Medicaid agency said Tuesday that obscuring part of Medicare beneficiaries' Social Security numbers would cost $255 million, while replacing the numbers with new Medicare IDs would cost $317 million — a 62 percent drop in price. Lawmakers support a redesign because the current cards lend themselves to identity theft.
The Ways and Means Committee has more.
State by state
Calif. health exchange awards $37 million in grants
Ariz. Senate to move budget as Medicaid fight looms
La. Medicaid expansion resolution fails in committee
Hospitals prepare to cut care in Medicaid opt-out states
Most docs still waiting on a Medicaid pay raise
Ernst & Young / American Academy of Physician Assistants
How big insurance paid a small-business group to fight a premium tax
A sharper abortion debate after Gosnell verdict
Study questions benefit of salt reduction
Q&A on Angelina Jolie's preventive mastectomies
What you might have missed on Healthwatch
Turmoil toughens IRS job on healthcare
Pelosi: ObamaCare 'largely responsible' for bringing down deficit
GOP senator escalates Sebelius, Iran-Contra comparison
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