Committee Expands Investigation into HHS Solicitations – Move Comes Following Sebelius Admission of Contacting Organizations that Agency Regulates On Behalf of Enroll America
WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today further expanded their examination into reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may have solicited funding or assistance from the health care industry to help implement the president’s health care law. Nearly one month after reports first surfaced that she had solicited two groups on behalf of Enroll America, Sebelius today disclosed that she had, in fact, reached out to three additional health care organizations. During an appearance on Capitol Hill before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the HHS Secretary admitted that she had also contacted Johnson & Johnson, Ascension Health, and Kaiser Permanente on behalf of Enroll America, the non profit group working to implement the health care law. Committee leaders are especially concerned with agency officials soliciting companies and organizations regulated by the agency.
Similar to letters sent to 15 other companies, full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Vice Chairman of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today wrote to Ascension Health and Johnson & Johnson, requesting answers to a number of questions including –
- “Was your organization contacted by the HHS Secretary, any HHS employee, staff, or official, or any individual acting on behalf of HHS, including Enroll America or other third parties, relating to contributions to assist in the establishment and implementation of the PPACA?
- “Was your organization contacted by anyone employed by or acting on behalf of Enroll America to contribute to or assist in the establishment and implementation of the PPACA or to contribute or assist Enroll America?
- “Was your organization contacted by former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle to contribute to or assist in the establishment and implementation of the PPACA or to contribute or assist Enroll America?"
A recent Politico report detailed the active fundraising efforts of Nancy-Ann DeParle, former head of the White House Office of Health Reform and later Obama Deputy Chief of Staff, who left the White House in January and is now working in her spare time to raise millions of dollars from insurance companies for Enroll America.
The committee has now sent letters to the following 17 companies and organizations: Aetna, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Ascension Health, Blue Shield of California, BlueCross BlueShield Association, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, Coventry Health Care, Inc., H&R Block, HCSC Group, Highmark, Humana, Inc., Independence Blue Cross, Johnson and Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare, and Wellpoint, Inc.
Letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius can be found here.
Letter to Enroll America can be found here.
Letters to companies and organizations, including Ascension Health and Johnson & Johnson, can be found here.
Letter to GAO can be found here.