Wednesday, June 16, 2010

HHS misses multiple basic ObamaCare deadlines

The Daily Caller reports that multiple deadlines have been missed by the Department of Health and Human Services as the Obama administration scrambles to implement and sell the new health care reform law:
Key Republican lawmakers are pressing President Obama’s top health-care official for answers on why the administration has missed “numerous” early deadlines in implementing Obamacare.

The missed deadlines “are some of the most basic provisions of this law,” the June 16 letter says, the administration’s “failure to meet these deadlines does not bode well for the [law’s] more complicated provisions.”

As reported earlier by The Daily Caller, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already missed as many as four deadlines under the law – not on any major regulations — but still a worrisome trend, critics say.

Congressional staff and industry representatives had been asking HHS for a timeline specifying when it will issue the numerous regulations required by the law. They were shocked to find the agency has not produced such a document, one aide said.

The issue is important because vast industry sectors are trying to plan their own implementations of the health-care law and most of the details remain in bureaucrats’ hands, leaving a vacuum of uncertainty about the final burdens the law will impose.

The missed deadlines include creating task forces on breast cancer and Alaskan health care, publishing a list of new authorities granted under the law, and work on defining “underserved” areas that receive higher health-care subsidies.

HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo has noted the administration had already implemented numerous parts of the health care law in advance of deadlines.

Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, noted the missed deadlines stand in contrast to an aggressive public relations push by the White House and outside groups to sell the law.

“While the administration is focused on an aggressive, taxpayer-funded public relations campaign to combat the health care bill’s increasingly high disapproval numbers, they have missed numerous implementation deadlines. It is important that we carry out our congressional oversight responsibilities,” Camp said.

While missing deadlines, the administration has found time to send promotional material touting the law’s benefit, including a brochure for senior citizens and post cards from the IRS advertising tax breaks under the law.
Here's my interpretation of the administration position on the situation:  We don't know what's in the 2,409-page Senate bill and its 153-page House of Representative "fix-it" reconciliation bill that together constitute the new law, but we will implement its provisions as soon as we figure out what they are.  We're ahead of schedule on the easy stuff, but the hard stuff is, well, just hard.  But don't worry.  You are going to love it.  Everyone is going to love it.  Seniors are going to love it (oh, yeah, and check your mail because we are sending you a check for $250 to help you love it.)  And just in case that doesn't work, we are spending $125 million to explain it to you for the ten thousandth time.

Perhaps we should give HHS chief Kathleen Sibelius a break.  The phrase "the secretary," meaning Sibelius, appears 2,579 in the Senate bill and 49 times in the reconciliation bill.  The phrase "the secretary shall" appears 764 times in the Senate bill and 16 times in the reconciliation bill.  By any standard, that's quite a to do list.

Especially if you haven't read it.

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