Is there already a split between new Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Congress?
Burwell was given a June 24th congressional deadline to list funding sources of Obamacare “risk corridors.” The corridors (Temporary Risk Corridors Program) were established under the Affordable Care Act transferring money from healthier, less costly patients, to those sicker and more expensive to insure. Ferdous Al-Faruque reveals in his report for The Hill on June 11, 2014, that risk corridors are being called into question again.
Also, according to The Hill, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) wrote to Burwell claiming while she has authority to oversee the risk corridors, nothing grants her funding powers. This raises another question. Is Matthews in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act? Sources for both Senators’ views and questions come from findings by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the government Accountability Office (GAO).
From Elise Viebeck writing in Monday’s TheHill.com, comes a report asking why Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s vetting process on Capitol Hill has been so relatively trouble free? Some Republicans could still be opposed to her taking the helm at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and potentially expressing this, openly on the floor in June. Yet, equal numbers have voiced their support of the current White House Budget Director.
Burwell can express her gratitude towards “filibuster reform.” Burwell also may be benefitting from recent, trending good news about Obamacare itself.
Also, according to The Hill report, Senator Orrin Hatch, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “She’s qualified, and I think she’s a good worker. So I’m pleased she’s willing to do this. It’s a terrible job. It’s just terrible.”
Will the confirmation process for Sylvia Mathews Burwell be relatively controversy-free? The White House’s new choice to oversee the Affordable Care Act recently underwent the first of two congressional interrogations from Senate Republicans, according to Jennifer Haberkom, May 7 on Politico’s website.
With the strong support of Senate Democrats, Burwell still has a strong likelihood of confirmation. Even some Republicans have indicated they could vote for her ─ barring any faux pas or skeletons suddenly emerging from her closet. Still, Republicans will utilize both hearing sessions in an attempt to undermine legislation that she’ll be responsible for both implementing and administering.
Questions Burwell will likely face include:
● How much Burwell knows about healthcare.
● What changes she might make to the ACA.
● The number of people have lost coverage and how many were previously uninsured.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) commented on Burwell, “. . . And she lacks experience in that and you would think that in this point in history you would get somebody who served as a head of a state health department, a state Medicaid [agency], who ran an insurance company or a big medical company or just a big company that bought a lot of health care.”
According to industry-related Life Health Pro.com, a site for life and health insurance advisors, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the newest nominee for the job of secretary of HHS, slated to replace Kathleen Sebelius, previously worked with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on health policy.
“Sylvia Mathews Burwell did not write many of the Clinton-era health policy memos now online at the Clinton Library website, but she got the carbon copies,” says Life Health Pro in the April 23 article. In 1997, while Kagan was a domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House, she counseled Burwell on a Partial Birth Abortion Act bill, one that then Sen. Tom Daschle (D – SD) was sponsoring.
The writer’s author, Allison Bell, added, “Health policy ideas included a ban on human cloning, regulation of tobacco companies’ use of the Internet to advertise tobacco products, strengthening protections for human subjects involved in secret research projects, home health care regulation, and efforts to create a patients’ bill of rights and a health care quality commission.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La) and four Republican Congressmen from Louisiana are requesting the Senators hold the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell for HHS Secretary.
The Rep. Scalise is asking Senators Landrieu (D-La) and David Vitter (R-La) to use the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as a bargaining chip to try and change the healthcare law, suggesting that the individual mandate to purchase coverage should be eliminated, according to Tuesday’s story in TheHill.com. “Landrieu (D. La.) faces a tough re-election battle that has Obamacare at the center of debate,” said Elise Viebeck, the writer of the article.
Whether this brings about any changes remains to be seen as Senate Democrats reportedly have the votes to confirm a new HHS secretary.
According to Tuesday’s story on Politico.com, one long-anticipated Obamacare battle expected to control the Senate in May, could possibly evaporate. During the first week of May, the Senate will consider the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace recently resigned Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. HHS is the agency charged with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
At the outset, it appeared Republicans seemed poised to utilize the confirmation process to continue attacks on Obamacare. “Cursorily, she looks very good, but she’s going to have to answer some really tough questions, is all I can say,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the high-level Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Another Finance Committee member, Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said, “She’s not the one to go after [over] the policy or ideological differences.” He added, “She’s got to go in and try to run the place. I’m much more concerned that she’s up to snuff.”
Several democrats facing re-election in this fall’s midterm say they will support Burwell.
There is trouble ahead for President Obama’s nominee to replace departed HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed Sylvia Mathews Burwell is “probably going to be confirmed and probably going to have the worst experience of her adult life.”
McConnell added, “I think she’s a pretty capable person”. . . “The issue here to me is not the personnel. It’s the bill.”