Sebelius “urged” companies she regulates to support Obamacare

June 4th, 2013

This story was originally overwhelmed during the news-torrent that was May 2013, including stories about AP subpoenas, IRS targeting conservative groups, and other news. What’s surprising is that it took HHS almost an entire month to make this additional disclosure.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, disclosed on Tuesday that she had made telephone calls to three companies regulated by her department and urged them to help a nonprofit group promote President Obama’s health care law.

She identified the companies as Johnson & Johnson, the drug maker; Ascension Health, a large Roman Catholic health care system; and Kaiser Permanente, the health insurance plan.

At a Congressional hearing, Ms. Sebelius said she had not explicitly asked the companies for money, but urged them to support the work of the nonprofit group, Enroll America.

The group, led by former Obama administration officials, is working with the White House to publicize the 2010 health care law and help uninsured people sign up for coverage. . .  .

Obama administration officials had previously said that Ms. Sebelius solicited donations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block, the tax preparation service. She confirmed on Tuesday that she had urged them to “consider making contributions’’ to Enroll America, which she described as “a private nonprofit nonpartisan organization.’’

When the Secretary of a powerful agency that regulates your business “urges” you to do something, the executives would be wise to take the hint. This is some sort of bizarre reverse capture, where the government is seeking rents from industry to support government programs!

Sebelius is less willing to toe the line of her authority in other cases.