GAO Report Examines Sebelius’ ACA Fundraising Efforts
The Government Accountability Office in a report released Sunday detailed how HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raised money from private organizations to help promote enrollment in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 4/20).
Faced with lower-than-expected funding to implement the ACA, Sebelius since March 2013 solicited donations from industry executives, community organizations and church groups. The donation requests were for a campaign headed by Enroll America, a not-for-profit coalition.
In May 2013, GOP leaders sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office with a formal request to investigate Sebelius' requests for donations (California Healthline, 5/28/13).
GAO in its report did not comment on the legality of Sebelius' fundraising strategy. Instead, the report said that Sebelius "contacted the chief executive officers of five organizations to solicit support for one outside entity, Enroll America."
According to the report, that support included a request for funds from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, as well as "nonfinancial support, such as technical assistance, from Ascension Health, Johnson & Johnson and Kaiser, which consists of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals." GAO also noted that HHS regulates three of those organizations:
- Ascension Health;
- Kaiser; and
- Johnson and Johnson.
In addition, the report noted that a RWJF employee said that in 2012 Jeanne Lambrew -- the deputy assistant to the president for health policy -- "indicated a hope that RWJF would provide significant financial contribution to support" Enroll America. According to the Times, HHS employees told investigators that they were unaware of any other federal employee soliciting funds for the organization.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of the five lawmakers who requested the report, said that he hopes Sebelius' replacement "will not ask the entities she regulates to support the president's allies" (New York Times, 4/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.