Politico Pro has published a short but remarkable article [$] stemming from an interview with HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. It offers a couple of illuminating items, and one very glaring one.
First, Sebelius undermines the White House’s claim that “28 States and the District of Columbia are on their way toward establishing their own Affordable Insurance Exchange” when she says:
We don’t know if we’re going to be running an exchange for 15 states, or 30 states…
So it turns out that maybe as few as 20 states are on their way toward establishing this “essential component of the law.” Or maybe fewer.
Second, the article reports the Obama administration has reversed itself on whether it has enough money to create federal Exchanges in states that decline to create them. The administration has repeatedly claimed that the $1 billion ObamaCare appropriates would cover the federal government’s costs of implementing the law. And yet the president’s new budget proposal requests “another $1 billion” to cover what Sebelius calls “the one-time cost to build the infrastructure, the enrollment piece of [the federal exchange], the IT system that’s needed.”
In other words, as I blogged yesterday, the Obama administration does not have the money it needs to create federal Exchanges. Therefore, if states don’t create them, ObamaCare grinds to a halt. (Oh, and this billion dollars is the last billion the administration will request. Honest.)
Most important, however, is this:
Even if Congress does not grant the president’s request for more health reform funding, Sebelius said her department will find a solution. “We are going to get it done, yes,” she said.
An HHS staffer prevented the reporter from asking Sebelius what she had in mind.
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