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WHERE’S BURWELL? Secretary of HHS Sylvia Burwell That Is.

Connecting the Dots Between Obamacare and the Border Crisis

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the nomination of Sylvia Burwell to be secretary of the Health and Human Services Department

You know, the new Secretary of HHS that breezed through her Senate confirmation 78-17 on June 5th. That was despite the unpopular Obamacare law and the botched rollout because many said she was smart, a proven manager, very capable and even trustworthy when she was the Office of Management and Budget Director for less than a year.

So where is Sec. Burwell when Obamacare is a disaster still unfolding and we have a crisis on the border? I find it odd that she’s conspicuously absent when her predecessor was seen and heard from nearly as much as the president over the last five years.

Last week the Inspector General for HHS issued a report that found that the online federal marketplace could not resolve nearly 90 percent (or 2.6 million) of its 2.9 million data “inconsistencies”, in which half are related to citizenship status:

obamacare inconsistencies

How is that possible that they can’t determine who is and who isn’t eligible? At what point does a software bug become a planned “glitch”?

It’s imperative to find a fix for the errors when hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are crossing our border, and odds have it that a majority will be allowed to stay indefinitely. Did the president and Democrats lie to Americans when they said that only citizens were eligible for Obamacare?

Don’t forget, the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill (S. 744) specifically called for the existing 11 million illegal immigrants living here to pay a fine, pay back taxes and go to the end of the entry line for 10 years before they could become citizens. Does anyone really believe our government can track these requirements for millions of people over decades if they can’t even roll out a website and identify who is eligible for insurance and subsidies? I didn’t think so.

On July 8th, The Blaze reported that the White House website published a piece to promote Obamacare benefits, in Spanish language only:

The White House on Tuesday posted a blog advertising the benefits of Obamacare, encouraging people to live in New Mexico because of the state’s expanded Medicaid benefits for lower-income people. The post is written entirely in Spanish.

Published without an English translation, its title roughly means, “A few miles can make the difference between having health insurance and not having it.”

The administration just requested $3.7 billion in emergency funds for the crisis on the border. While nearly half of the funds requested, $1.8 billion, was for HHS alone, it is not a plan to secure the border. The White House Fact Sheet provides more details:

The Department of Health and Human Services – $1.8 billion

This proposal would provide an additional $1.8 billion for HHS to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children, consistent with Federal law, while maintaining services for refugees.  With these funds, HHS will have the resources to be able to care for the children currently projected to come into the custody of the Department of Homeland Security while putting in place more stable, cost-effective arrangements for these children going forward.  The proposal would also support the ongoing HHS medical response activities for unaccompanied children to address the surge at Border Patrol facilities.

Even without the additional funding, Secretary Burwell is already a key person in managing the border crisis. Per the administration, DHS must turn over UAC’s within 72 hours to the custody of HHS for their care.

Yet we haven’t heard a peep from her as far as I know. Where is she and why won’t she provide the status on the well-being of the children and the on-going management of the facilities to Congress and the American people? Why is her department denying Congressmen access to retention facilities?

During a Senate hearing yesterday, Sen. Coburn asked an HHS Assistant Secretary if they confirmed the legal status of the parent or sponsor before placing a child in their care. After asking and re-asking the question several times, the HHS person stated it was the policy of HHS not to ask the legal status of the guardian. Sen. Coburn confirmed that given this policy, the chances of a parent or guardian without legal status showing up to the child’s immigration court hearing is extremely low. Watch the clip of the exchange here.

Sadly, many of the children have serious health issues, some with contagious diseases, and releasing them onto the street or care of others across the county is like releasing walking biological health hazards. Is HHS treating their diseases before they are boarded onto public planes and buses?

It’s past time for the House to hold oversight hearings with Sec. Burwell on the status of the border crisis and what HHS is doing to care for the safety of the American public.

My advice to the House:

1. Don’t take the month of August off to campaign. You need to oversee what is going on with Obamacare and the handling of the border crisis.

2. Allocate emergency funds for HHS to buy and install a new backup server within the next 30 days.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Signal

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