Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was supposedly the only official to have solicited financial support for Enroll America, a nonprofit pro-ObamaCare PR group. That is, until now. A new GAO report says that even though HHS claimed they were “not aware” of any federal government officials outside the agency soliciting funds for Enroll America, a former White House advisor pushed at least one organization to give a “significant” contribution.
A representative from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told the Government Accountability Office that they recalled “a discussion” in 2012 between one of their staffers and the “Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy,” who would have been Jeanne Lambrew.
“The representative of RWJF, one of the two organizations that HHS contacted to solicit funds on behalf of Enroll America, told us about a discussion that occurred in 2012 between an RWJF staff member and the Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy,” the GAO said. “According to RWJF, this official estimated that Enroll America or other similar national enrollment organizations would likely need about $30 million to finance a national outreach effort.”
The White House originally said that no one outside of Kathleen Sebelius and HHS were involved in soliciting funds for Enroll America, but now have changed their tune. When contacted by the GAO to clear up the discrepancy, the administration stated that this official did not offer RWJF a specific estimate of the level of financial support needed for nation outreach efforts,” i.e. enrollment propaganda. However, the representative remembers the conversation differently.
“RWJF told us that the official also indicated a hope that RWJF would provide a significant financial contribution to support such efforts,” the GAO report stated.
The report was requested by congressional Republicans, who have been questioning whether the scope of these solicitations had been disclosed, or whether the White House got around congressional limits on spending for the health law, breaching ethical guidelines. The extent to which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was involved was also discovered to be far more than previously disclosed by White House officials.
Sebelius contacted the CEOs of five large organizations to “solicit support” for Enroll America, one of which was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ending in one $3 million grant and one $10 million grant after the call.
She also reportedly requested “non-financial support such as technical assistance” from Kaiser and Ascension Health, who gave money to Enroll America regardless of supposedly not being “nudged” to do so. This is particularly disturbing, considering Kaiser is often portrayed as a nonpartisan organization, who frequently provides data cited by experts to gauge the effectiveness of the law.