Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with President Barack Obama and senior White House aides numerous times prior the rocky launch of HealthCare.gov, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by The Hill.
The 750 pages of documents obtained by The Hill show that “Sebelius met with or attended calls and events with Obama at least 18 times between Oct. 27, 2012, and Oct. 6, 2013.” These instances include at seven times when both were scheduled to discuss the new health care law.
Sebilius also had breakfast or lunch with Obama adviser Pete Rouse at least three times and had a number of calls and appointment with close Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett as well as White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. Additionally the HHS Secretary met with White House senior healthcare adviser Chris Jennings at least seven times.
The new information is important because Obama said he was unaware of problems with HealthCare.gov before it launched.
In December, Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), found that the president’s public schedule did not list any one-on-one meetings between Sebelius and Obama between July 2010 and November 2013. There was, though, “one instance of Secretary Sebelius meeting jointly with the President and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner,” GAI remarked.
Since Obamacare was signed in March of 2010, the White Schedule showed that the president met with “various Cabinet secretaries a total of 277 times,” GAI discovered, and he “met with secretaries from the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury for 263 (95%) out of his 277 face-to-face meetings.”
The new documents suggest Sebelius did stay in close communication with Obama but raise new questions about why he was unaware of problems with HealthCare.gov before it launched.