HHS Planned for High-Level Hiring Surge on Day Obamacare Passed
Ever see a high pressure sales job on a used car lot? You know, where the salesman with the slicked back hair and the bad cologne tries to stick you with a lemon. His job is to get you off the lot at sticker price before you realize the car has no power steering or air conditioning.
Well that is exactly what we have seen from the very beginning with the president’s healthcare overhaul boondoggle known as Obamacare. (The Obama administration has already given businesses a one-year delay for implementation, conveniently shifting the mess past Election Day 2014, while businesses are moving to hire more part-time workers to avoid the penalties required by the law.)
As Judicial Watch uncovered, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has used every trick in the book to shove Obamacare down our throats. The agency bankrolled a $200 million propaganda campaign to “persuade” the American people that the healthcare monstrosity would be in their best interest; they even trotted out aging television star Andy Griffith for a “public service” campaign. HHS also spent $1.4 million to make “a big guerilla campaign splash” on the Internet through paid advertisements targeting Hispanics, blacks, and women.
And now we learn that HHS was ready--on moment-one after Obamacare passage--to bypass compensation rules to hire a legion of high-priced government employees to push the lemon off the lot.
According to documents we released this week, on the day Obamacare passed, HHS obtained permission from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to cast aside normal hiring procedures in order to hire 1,814 highly-paid, top-level administrators to expedite Obamacare implementation.
According to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch, OPM Director John Berry gave HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Denise Wells extraordinary “direct-hire appointing authority” (DHA) in order to bypass normal channels and, in Berry’s words, “hire quickly in order to execute the President’s directive with respect to implementing health care reform.” In all, HHS was granted permission to utilize what Wells termed the DHA “valuable human capital recruitment tool” to hire 1,814 GS 13–15 employees, including:
- 59 Social Science Analyst/Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 350 Health Insurance Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 55 Administrative and Program Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 235 Program Analysts/Management Analysts at the GS-15 level
- 40 Accountants at the GS 15 level
- 90 Dental Officers at the GS 14 level
- 291 Public Health Advisors/Analysts at the GS-14 level
- 261 Consumer Safety Officers at the GS-13 level
- 92 Grants Management Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 50 Criminal Investigators at the GS-13 level
- 291 Information Technology Specialists at the GS-15 level
According to the Base General Schedule Pay Scale, in 2010, the nearly 2,000 new employees hired to “quickly” implement the Obamacare program would have received a salary between $70,000 and $130,000 per year. More than 1,100 of the new employees would have come in at the GS-15 level, starting at nearly $100,000 annually. The Daily Mail took a look at our documents that the Obama administration sought to spend $159 million a year on these new Obamacare government employees.
But there is more.
Additional documents obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that, in early 2013, Anne Filipic, the president of Enroll America (a nonprofit “tasked with selling Obamacare”), worked with then-professional staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee Debra Curtis to organize Obamacare congressional briefings explicitly excluding Republican House members and their staffs. (Filipic is a former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Deputy Director at HHS.)
Among the highlights from the records
- In an email dated February 11, 2013, Curtis wrote to Filipic, “They [House Democrat leadership] want to do another one next week while Congress is in recess that would be open all House Democratic Staff [emphasis added] to start getting folks up to speed.”
- In email dated February 12, 2013, Curtis wrote to Filipic: “I would guess that this would be a well-attended event with upward of 100 people in attendance. We’ll check IDs to be sure we’ve got all Dems coming as well.” [Emphasis added]
(Once again, we see evidence that the president, who was supposed to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, has instead inspired divisiveness and exclusion.)
Filipic is also at the center of a growing controversy involving possible illegal Obamacare fundraising done on behalf of Filipic’s Enroll America by her former boss at HHS, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. On May 10, 2013, the Washington Post broke the story that in “an unusual fundraising push” Sebelius was pressuring health care industry officials regulated by HHS to make donations to Enroll America. On May 14, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Sebelius saying, "Our initial reaction is that this appears at best to be an inherent conflict of interest and at worst a potentially illegal augmentation of appropriation.”
In a follow-up letter on June 27, a group of 28 Republican senators admonished Sebelius:
Article I of the Constitution gives Congress alone the power of the purse. Your agency requested additional money to implement the exchanges, and Congress denied that request. You cannot evade Congress’ Constitutional power of the purse through gifts or donations to an entity that appears to be ‘just an arm of the administration,’ as one health industry official described Filipic’s Enroll America in The Hill.
The House Commerce Committee is currently investigating the Sebelius solicitations.
Even as the ill-conceived Obamacare law continues to crumble, we are learning more and more about its massive cost to the American people the and backroom politics attendant to its passage and implementation.
Barack Obama and his cohorts created a bureaucratic contrivance to hand massive new powers to an already bloated federal government. And the cost in tax dollars, jobs, the rule of law, and individual freedom is becoming increasingly clear.