In the heart of sequester season, The Washington Post reports that Obamacare is immune. Last year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) warned of dire consequences for the sick, children and the poor because of sequester cuts. This year HHS is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to promote Obamacare and shielding it from those cuts. Rather than pushing for flexibility in implementing sequester cuts, HHS Secretary Sebelius laments not having an iPad-type budget to promote Obamacare. Priorities in Washington? Politics always comes first.
HHS SHIELDS OBAMACARE MARKETING BUDGET FROM SEQUESTER DESPITE DIRE SEQUESTER WARNINGS JUST LAST YEAR
The Department Of Health And Human Services (HHS) Is Finding Ways To Shield Obamacare’s Promotional Budget From The Sequester
WaPo: “HHS Is Shielding Obamacare Outreach From Sequester Cuts.” (Sarah Kliff, “HHS Is Shielding Obamacare Outreach From Sequester Cuts,” The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, 8/5/13)
HHS “Lost $15.5 Billion Due To The Automatic Budget Cuts, But Has Tried To Shield Efforts To Promote Enrollment From Those Reductions.” (Sarah Kliff, “HHS Is Shielding Obamacare Outreach From Sequester Cuts,” The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, 8/5/13)
FLASHBACK: Doom And Gloom From HHS On Sequester Cuts
“Health And Human Services Is Telling Congress There’s Going To Be A Lot Of Pain If The Budget Sequester Is Allowed To Take Effect Come January 2013.” (J. Lester Feder And Seung Min Kim, “HHS: Sequester To Cut Services For Children, Poor,” Politico, 7/11/12)
HHS: Sequester Cuts Would Threaten Services For Children, The Homeless, And AIDS Patients. “The deep discretionary cuts projected by CBO would have profound consequences on the Department’s ability to protect Americans’ health and safety and provide critical services to vulnerable populations. … The cuts projected by CBO would also reduce the Department’s ability to support American families. For example, up to 100,000 children would lose Head Start services and approximately 80,000 fewer children would receive child care assistance. In addition, approximately 12,150 fewer patients would receive benefits from our AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Approximately 169,000 fewer individuals would be admitted to substance abuse treatment programs and an estimated 14,200 fewer people who are homeless would receive assistance.” (Assistant Secretary For Financial Services Ellen G. Murray, Letter To Representative Edward Markey, HHS, 7/29/12)
HHS Sent Letters To Governors Of All 50 States Detailing Estimates Of How Many Children In Each State Would Lose Access To Head Start Because Of Sequester Cuts, Which “Could Disrupt Services For Children And Families.” (“FOIA Documents Reveal Sequestration Propaganda In HHS Letters To Governors Of All 50 States,” Judicial Watch, 3/28/13)
· HHS: “Programs May Have To Cut Services, Staff, And Classrooms Of The Current School Year In Order To Operate Under The Reduced Funding Level. This Impact Would Be Felt By Community And Faith-Based Organizations, Small Businesses, Local Governments, And School Systems Forced To Lay Off Teachers, Teacher Assistants, And Other Staff.” (“FOIA Documents Reveal Sequestration Propaganda In HHS Letters To Governors Of All 50 States,” Judicial Watch, 3/28/13)
· HHS Also Detailed A Sample Of Estimated Program Funding Reductions For Each State, Including As Examples Cuts To The Social Services Block Grant, Senior Nutrition Programs, The Maternal And Child Health Block Grant, And Substance Abuse Prevention/Treatment. (“FOIA Documents Reveal Sequestration Propaganda In HHS Letters To Governors Of All 50 States,” Judicial Watch, 3/28/13)
The Washington Post Headline: “Cancer Clinics Are Turning Away Thousands Of Medicare Patients. Blame The Sequester.” (Sarah Kliff, “Cancer Clinics Are Turning Away Thousands Of Medicare Patients. Blame The Sequester.,” The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, 4/3/13)
Facing Sequester, HHS Reveals Spending Priorities
Amid Sequester Cuts, HHS Finds $454 Million To Use For Obamacare Enrollment. “The Department of Health and Human Services is shifting $454 million out of the prevention and public health fund created under the health care law to help enroll people in insurance offered under the overhaul, a chart obtained by CQ HealthBeat indicates. … Hamburg said that the shift to assist enrollment efforts under the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) is coming at the expense of the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (John Reichard, “HHS To Use $454 Million From Prevention Fund For Health Insurance Enrollment,” CQ HealthBeat, 4/15/13)
Meanwhile, The Entity In Charge Of Rooting Out Waste, Fraud, And Abuse Is Facing Budget And Staff Cuts. “Facing major budget and staff cuts, federal officials are scaling back several high-profile health-care fraud and abuse investigations, including an audit of the state insurance exchanges that are set to open later this year as a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, which investigates Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse, is in the process of losing 400 staff members, about 20 percent of its workforce from its peak strength of 1,800 last year. About 200 will have departed by the end of the year, and the other 200 are slated to be gone by the end of 2015. ‘As OIG’s budget resources decline, so do our enforcement and oversight activities,’ said an agency document obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. The OIG noted that it ‘will not be able to keep pace’ with the rapid growth of taxpayer-subsidized health care anticipated under the Affordable Care Act.” (Fred Schulte, “Budget Cuts Force Scale Back Of Health-Care Fraud Investigations,” The Washington Post, 7/25/13)
· Budget And Staff Cuts At The HHS Office Of Inspector General Resulted In The Cancelation Of A Planned Audit Of Obamacare Exchanges. “Several of the canceled projects were included in the agency’s 2013 ‘work plan,’ which serves as a barometer for suspected fraud or billing abuse. Among them: A planned audit into computer security at state marketplaces — known as exchanges — that will sell individual health-insurance policies under the health-care law. The inspector general’s office said that ‘time pressures’ to get the exchanges running by Oct. 1 may increase risks that states will fail to shield private medical information from ‘hacker exploits, unauthorized data access and data theft or manipulation.’ In addition, the OIG document said, about $3.8 billion in grant money to develop the exchanges is ‘potentially at risk for wasteful spending.’ Seventeen states are planning to run their own exchanges, while the rest will be operated by the federal government or in state-federal partnerships.” (Fred Schulte, “Budget Cuts Force Scale Back Of Health-Care Fraud Investigations,” The Washington Post, 7/25/13)
HHS IS LOOKING FOR A BLOCKBUSTER BUDGET
SHOT: White House Frustrated It Won’t Have A Bigger Budget: “The White House has long expressed frustration with Congress’ decision not to provide funding for Obamacare outreach. That means that, right now, the administration is working with a budget it wished would be larger, as it tries to sign seven million people up for health insurance coverage.” (Sarah Kliff, “HHS Is Shielding Obamacare Outreach From Sequester Cuts,” The Washington Post, 8/5/13)
· HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “We won’t have the kind of resources that Apple had when it rolled out the iPhone and iPad. We’d love to have the money a movie studio has when its about to launch a new hit.” (Sarah Kliff, “HHS Is Shielding Obamacare Outreach From Sequester Cuts,” The Washington Post, 8/5/13)
CHASER: Obamacare Campaign To Cost Taxpayers $684 Million: “The [Obamacare] campaign won’t come cheap: The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled The Associated Press from federal and state sources.” (Carla K. Johnson, “Marketing ‘Obamacare’ Shaping Up As Big Challenge,” The Associated Press, 7/26/13)
· “Man Of Steel” Marketing Campaign Estimated At $150 Million (Dave Mcnary, “Warner Bros. Sets Bar High For Latest – And Priciest – Incarnation Of Superman,” Variety, 6/6/13)
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