May 30 2013

Uh-Oh: ObamaCare Has a Slush Fund

Charlotte Hays

Instead of officially calling ObamaCare the Affordable Care Act, maybe it should have been named the Empower Government Act.

Legal writer Stuart Taylor has a piece on a little-known ObamaCare slush fund that will help empower government bureaucrats to lobby via third parties.

Of course, the fund isn't called the ObamaCare Slush Fund—it has a benign name: “Prevention and Public Health Fund.” It also has a nice budget: $12.5 billion to dole out over the next decade.

Taylor writes that the money is “going for everything from massage therapists who offer ‘calming techniques,’ to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants.”

Congressional critics have called this a slush fund because the Department of Health and Human Services can spend the money any way it pleases; it does not have to go through the usual appropriations process. Like most bad programs, it will never end.  

“It’s totally crazy to give the executive branch $2 billion a year ad infinitum to spend as they wish,” said budget expert Jim Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Congress has the power of the purse, the purpose of which is to insure that the Executive branch is using taxpayer resources as Congress specified.”

But don't count on your accupuncturist making out like a bandit. Much of the money is likely to end of in the pockets of friendly third parties which will lobby for things the government bureaucrats want.

Even the HHS inspector general in 2012 voiced concern that this money is okayed for third-party groups for activities that come “dangerously close” to lobbying. So let me get this straight: the Department of Health and Human Services has a little-known fund that it can use to get third-party groups to advocate for things bureaucrats want.

Moderate Republican Susan Collins is alarmed:

Collins, a leading Senate moderate, cited copious evidence in a May 1, 2012 letter to Sebelius that CDC has provided “official guidance to grantees that appears to include an expectation that federal funds are to be used for strategies that result in changes to state and local policies and laws.”

While stressing strong support for “the wellness and prevention mission of the CDC,” Collins cited examples including a report to the agency by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which received a $1.5 million CPPW anti-tobacco grant in 2010. Thanks to the federal money, the Health Department reported, “210 policy makers were contacted . . . 31 ordinances were passed . . . there were 26 community presentations made to local governments .. . and 16 additional ordinances were passed this quarter, for a cumulative total of 47.” …

Enlisting other levels of government to do things [the federal government] can’t do openly on its own is the latest example of propaganda and politicizing efforts that only pretend to represent policy reform,” said Tom Miller, an expert in health policy and law at the American Enterprise Institute.

Taylor suggests that a lobbying campaign will come in handy—it will be difficult to convince healthy young Americans to buy expensive health insurance policies with a lot of government-mandated services. So the slush fund will be available to get third parties to advocate for this illogical behavior on the part of the young (it is illogical for the young but absolutely essential to ObamaCare).

Taylor concludes:

So, as the Administration sets out to recruit enough young, healthy people to keep premiums from soaring, it may need every dollar it can find for advertising and outreach.

What some critics call a “slush fund,” may well turn out to be Obamacare’s own insurance policy.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin is angry that some of the so-designated preventative money is being "raided" to shore up the health insurance exchanges mandated by ObamaCare.

Is it just me or do you also think ObamaCare got passed before it was read?

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus