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HHS Secretary Sebelius Subpoenaed Over Using Tax Dollars to Promote Obamacare

"...after months of being unresponsive, I am left with no choice but to compel their cooperation."

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, speaks during a National Strategy For Suicide Prevention event at the National Press Club, on September 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. Over 30,000 Americans commit suicide each year, and the foundationÕs strategy is to confront this serious problem by educating the Nation's communities on where to seek help.\nCredit: Getty Images\n

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (L)speaks as Attorney General Eric Holder listens during a news conference to announce Medicare Fraud Strike Force law enforcement actions October 4, 2012 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Ninety-one individuals in seven cities, including doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, have been charged by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $429.2 million in false billing. (Credit: Getty Images)

The House Ways and Means Committee has subpoenaed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over "Obamacare" documents that Congress believes will show how the federal agency is promoting the health care law, Politico first reported.

The subpoena orders Sebelius to give up documents concerning how tax dollars are being used to promote the law via public relations efforts, advertising and message testing. The House committee is asking for documents from January 2008 to today.

Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and oversight subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-La.) are behind the subpoena. In October, the two lawmakers sent a letter to the HHS secretary threatening a subpoena if the material was not provided by Oct. 31. Clearly, she did not comply. Further, an initial request for the documents was sent all the way back in June, which was also ignored.

Camp released the following statement Wednesday regarding the subpoena:

“The lack of response leads me to believe that this administration is either unwilling to disclose why they are using taxpayer dollars to market their unpopular law or are unable to keep track of how those taxpayer dollars are being spent...Either way, the American people deserve to know where their hard-earned money is going … after months of being unresponsive, I am left with no choice but to compel their cooperation.”

Politico has more details [emphasis added]:

HHS has signed at least two contracts — one valued at $20 million — for P.R. work on the law.

It’s the second subpoena Sebelius has faced from congressional Republicans in as many months. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed the agency to turn over documents to determine if funds from a Medicare Advantage demonstration program are being used improperly.

HHS has turned over more documents, but there’s been no word from committee Chairman Darrell Issa on whether the new documents satisfied his request.


Featured image via Getty

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