Sebelius subpoenaed over efforts to promote healthcare reform

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been subpoenaed for information on the Obama administration's efforts to promote the Affordable Care Act.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Despite last week’s election, House Republicans kept up their attack on the Obama administration’s 2010 healthcare law Wednesday, as the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius for information about the administration’s efforts to promote the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans have complained for years that the administration’s multimillion-dollar public relations campaign touting the law’s benefits was a misuse of taxpayer money. And they have demanded documents about the initiative, although such campaigns are common practice after new laws have been enacted.

“This Administration has repeatedly stonewalled Congress and refused to allow a public review of how these tax dollars were spent,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said in a statement Wednesday.

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Administration officials and Democrats on Capitol Hill have defended the public relations campaign as a legitimate effort to educate the public about the new law, which polls show is still widely misunderstood. Last month, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) accused Republicans of “partisan oversight” in their efforts to cast the campaign as improper.

After President George W. Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003, creating the new Medicare Part D drug benefit, his administration also spent millions on public relations about the law, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The subpoena is the second House Republicans have sent Sebelius in the last month.

In October, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also issued a subpoena to the Health and Human Services Department for documents related to the Obama administration’s efforts to ease cuts to private insurance companies that administer benefits to seniors through the Medicare Advantage Program.


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