Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received an icy and at times confrontational reception from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning, as she testified about the administration’s budget request for FY 2012. Despite accusing Sesbelius of avoiding the committee, the GOP proceeded to ignore the Secretary’s answers or cut her off mid sentence if she began to contradict their opposition to the law.
In the example below, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) charged the federal government of trying to “increase centralization” by granting states waivers from certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act. When Sebelius clarified that the waivers are actually designed by the states, Blackburn — who by then had accomplished her soundbite — quickly moved on:
BLACKBURN: [The American people] do not want the federal government, who cannot tend to the items on their plate making the decisions for their health care and we hear it from them every day …
SEBELIUS: Congresswoman, that is not at all, first of all we don’t design any waivers. The state comes to us.
BLACKBURN: I’ve seen the applications from my state and I respect that and I understand that. I want to move on.
SEBELIUS: The rules aren’t even developed for the program that you’re…
BLACKBURN: I do want to move on.
Republicans also lectured Sebelius on the political ramifications of the law, arguing that HHS’ ‘power grab’ led the Democrats to lose their majorities in the House.