HHS Sec. Sebelius called in because the expansion of Medicaid is at stake
In an attempt to sway politicians to vote for the stalled expansion of Medicaid, Gov. Rick Snyder has asked for assistance from an unlikely person — U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Sec. Sebelius has been one of the most outspoken federal officials in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known Obamacare. Gov. Snyder would like to see Medicaid expanded in Michigan, but the GOP-controlled Legislature has not gotten on board with the idea.
While the federal government has promised to pay 100 percent of the expansion costs for new enrollees for three years, that gradually decreases until the state is responsible for 10 percent of the costs. There are concerns among some Republicans and others that given the nation's spending and debt problems the federal government won't live up to its payment promise.
To try and alleviate those concerns, Sec. Sebelius has been invited to Michigan to make the administration's pitch.
She has been among the chief Obamacare promoters for years. In a 2010 speech, Sec. Sebelius called Obamacare a "great law" and said her department would serve as a "nationwide health insurance reform Help Desk."
In March, she predicted states with GOP-controlled legislatures would eventually expand Medicaid.
Then, last month, Sec. Sebelius posted a letter to all high school and college graduates boasting that Obamacare would allow them to stay on their parent’s health plan until they were 26, and would give them access to birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing "without you paying a penny."
Sec. Sebelius created controversy this month when it was discovered she made fundraising phone calls for Obamacare on behalf of Enroll America, a nonprofit that supports the health care law, according to a story in the Washington Post. She reportedly contacted officials at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block and asked for money to help fund the health care law.
Now she's bringing her message to Michigan. According to the HHS: "Sec. Sebelius is working closely with lawmakers in Michigan to explore options that improve care and lower costs in the Medicaid program. We always welcome discussions about innovative, state-specific approaches to extending Medicaid to low-income, uninsured adults, provided they are consistent with the law. We welcome the opportunity to continue those discussions with Gov. Snyder."
However, Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, a market-oriented research center, wondered why Gov. Snyder would go against Republican legislator efforts to defeat Obamacare.
"Snyder is now bringing in Sebelius, who has no credibility in their eyes," de Rugy said. "The governor is just adding insult to injury."
Jack Hoogendyk, president of the Madison Project in Michigan, which funds conservative political candidates, said Sec. Sebelius was "a liberal's liberal."
"It's extremely unfortunate that someone who is obviously a stronger supporter of government being the solution for all of our problems would be welcomed to Michigan to promote not only more expansion of government, but an expansion of federal government," Hoogendyk said. "By her actions and by the things she said, she seems to be someone who believes government is the way to solve problems and seems to have no regard for constitutional freedoms of individuals."